Prayer for the Muslim world: Understanding how COVID will affect Ramadan
May 2020
By a member of SEND’s Diaspora | North America team — Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, began April 24 and will continue to May 23. This will surely be the strangest time of fasting ever, with the COVID-19 virus strangling not only the economies of countries around the world, but also limiting or eliminating attendance at normally required Ramadan prayer services at local mosques. 

Fasting is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. It is not a suggestion, it is a requirement for earning God’s favor and getting to heaven. The bond of community, which usually helps Muslims to get through this difficult month, is conspicuously missing. People fast together and gather for prayer together, day after day, until they get through the month. Mosques during Ramadan are usually filled to overflowing. But this year, the threat of the coronavirus has social-distancing rules ringing in people’s ears and news stories of the dead and dying playing like a video in their minds. 

Can we relate?

We can relate to some of this as Christians, since we recently experienced a very unusual Good Friday and Easter Sunday. We wondered how we could fully celebrate when we couldn’t even get together in church for worship. Disappointedly, we gathered in our homes and watched services online. We listened and sang, but perhaps not as fully or loudly as when we stand shoulder to shoulder, lifting our voices in Easter celebration. 

But there is one big difference between Christian worship and Muslim worship. Christians believe that Christ’s death on the Cross covered their sins. They simply need to confess their sins and ask Jesus to forgive them, and then they are free to live for him. Christians gladly gather for worship to celebrate God’s mercy and grace, knowing that their salvation is dependent not on their actions, but on Christ alone. 

Muslims, on the other hand, believe that they need to fulfill the Five Pillars of Islam to earn their salvation. They fast and go to worship to earn God’s favor. And while it is true that prayers can be said outside the mosque, it is believed that prayers said within the mosque (especially during Ramadan) have much greater weight and value than those recited elsewhere. So, when that is taken away, it makes for a rocky situation in their souls.

Prayers for this season

Because of this time of uncertainty and less social pressure to fast and pray, we ask you to earnestly pray for Muslims during this time of Ramadan like you have never prayed before. Pray for them to step back and reflect on what they are doing and what they believe. Pray that they will earnestly seek God, and pray for a mighty movement of God’s Spirit to change hearts and minds from the oppression and darkness of Islam to the freedom and light of Christ. 

Several verses from David’s prayer in Psalm 51 come to mind as appropriate this month: “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. … Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place. … Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

After Ramadan, Muslims traditionally spend several days feasting and celebrating that another month of fasting is behind them. This year will be a little different. Finances are tight; celebrations will be likely be somewhat muted. After this strange Ramadan season ends, take the opportunity (social-distancing rules permitting) to visit your Muslim friends, neighbors or colleagues, delivering fruit or flowers and a smile. Ask them how Ramadan was different this year, and what they learned about themselves and about God. 

10/10 Prayer Initiative 

As you pray this month for Muslims to come to know Jesus, you are joining with tens of thousands of Christians around the world who are doing the same throughout the month of Ramadan. Two helpful resources for this season are the daily Prayercast videos and the 30 Days Prayer Guide. We continue to earnestly pray for 10 percent of the Muslim world to come to know Jesus as more than a respected prophet. It will take a miracle, and yes that is what we are praying for, as our God majors in miracles!   

  • Pray that Muslims fasting and praying this month will come to understand who the true and living God is, not one who demands sacrifice, but one who desires mercy and extends forgiveness to all who will believe and trust in him. 
  • Pray for visions and dreams to break through the shrouds of darkness, custom and social pressure so that hearts throughout the Muslim world will awaken to Jesus.  
  • Pray that Christian workers in Muslim lands who are also under COVID-19 restrictions will find ways to continue to interact with friends and neighbors for Kingdom purposes.
  • Pray for poor countries that have limited health facilities to cope with the COVID-19 outbreak. May they cry out to the Healer for mercy in these difficult days. 

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