FIRST-PERSON: The secret to praying for Muslims
RICHMOND, Va. (BP)--Throughout my years as director of the International Mission Board's Global Prayer Strategy, people have asked how they can best pray for Muslims. However, I believe the real question isn't what to pray but in what way to pray.
I served as a regional leader for the IMB in Western Europe from 1997 to 2004. During that time, the primary focus of my work was to equip our personnel to plant churches among the indigenous and immigrant peoples residing in that part of the world. In addition to praying for their ministries, I also prayed for the peoples among whom they ministered. Part of that group was a growing number of Muslim immigrants and refugees.
My prayers probably mirrored those of others. I prayed for the Holy Spirit to create a thirst for Muslims to know the one true God. I prayed for the Word of God to be placed in the hands of disenchanted Muslims so they could discover the depth of God's love and His provision for abundant and eternal life.
I could not help but notice that these prayers lacked the fervency of my other prayers for those who were my neighbors and friends in France and Germany. That was, until my wife and I began reaching out to Iranian refugees.
As we got to know these Muslims on a personal level in their small, crowded apartments over hundreds of cups of tea, birthday celebrations, language tutoring sessions and a potential deportation crisis, our prayers took on a whole new dimension. We no longer simply prayed like we were reading from a template or script. Rather, we voiced prayers prompted by the Holy Spirit. Our prayers were born of a love for a people struggling on many fronts. Our intercession expanded from an ultimate concern for their eternal souls to include their individual physical, social, marital, educational and political needs.
We prayed for them to overcome loneliness in their new country. We prayed for their children to make friends and to succeed at their studies. We prayed for them to find employment and we prayed for their families back in Iran. We wept with them as they mourned the death of loved ones. We prayed for the Holy Spirit to comfort and encourage them, to draw them to Himself during those desperate days.
How can you best pray for Muslims?
Get to know them.
Travel in their countries and learn all you can about them.
Befriend them right here at home. Talk to them in checkout lines.
In short, love them. Listen to the Holy Spirit as He prompts you to pray for them in an extremely personal and effective way.
Ed Cox is the IMB's global prayer strategy director. He can be contacted via twitter.com/imbprayerdir and through the blog, missionaryblogdigest.com.