Islam and Christianity: How Prayer is Different

The first time I entered a local mosque to observe my Muslim neighbor’s prayers, I was nervous and curious. I shed my shoes, put on a headscarf and slipped into the women-only section. Several mothers greeted me warmly, while small children ran between my feet.  When the call to prayer came, the women gathered quickly, standing side-by-side facing Mecca. They prayed in unison – standing, bowing, prostrating low to the ground, then repeating. Through a window, I watched men praying below, doing the same routine.

“Salah, or “prayer” is one of the five pillars of Islam, and an obligatory religious duty Muslims do five times a day.  As I observed these prayers that first time, I was struck by how pious the women seemed. I imagined my Muslim co-workers faithfully praying like that five times a day, every day, every week..for a lifetime.  In contrast, I considered the amount of time I personally spent in daily prayer. And I imagined that my own prayer life was not as earnest

I shared these thoughts with my friend, “Anna,” a former Muslim from a closed Islamic country who had attended that same mosque when she practiced Islam. She chided me. “Karen, their prayers are not like your prayers. You observed a ritual. Many of those women you saw were likely going through the motions while thinking about their kids or what they’ll cook for dinner. Some feel pressure to be seen as a good Muslim by doing that ritual prayer. And others are working very hard to please god as they know him.” 

It’s been years since that first mosque visit. Since then many Muslims have confided in me that despite earnestly praying five or more times a day, god has yet to answer their prayers.

Muslims are working very hard, praying five times a day, and god’s not answering.

Let that sink in.

This is Where You Come In

Here’s the Good News: You have the answer! If you’re a follower of Christ you know the living God, and He answers prayers! In fact, Jesus taught us how to pray (Matthew 6:9-13) and He promises us that when we remain in Him, we can ask Him for anything in his name and he’ll do it, as it brings glory to the Father (John [14:13].)

Friends praying with your Muslim friend in Jesus’ name is one of the most God-centered, God-glorifying things you can do. It’s also one of the most effective ways we’ve observed to lift up the name of Jesus with a Muslim. In fact, it’s one of the “5 Essentials” every Christian should know and do with Muslims. For more about that, click HERE.

While many Christians pray for Muslims…from afar, for their salvation, most don’t take it a step further by praying with their Muslim friend, in Jesus’ name. When you do that,it can be a game-changer.

Renod likes to say, “There’s no apologetics defense against praying WITH your Muslim friend, in Jesus’ name.”Oh friends, it’s true! No Islamic leader can prepare your Muslim friend for the effect of a sincere prayer done with him or her in Jesus’ name.

What’s Next

This month is Ramadan, a time when Muslims around you have a heightened focus on prayer and spiritual things.

  • Pray with expectation that you would meet a Muslim with whom you can build a Gospel-centered relationship.
  • If you are actively engaging with a Muslim friend, ask how you can pray for him or her. Share that you pray in Jesus’ name, and make sure that’s okay. Then pray together. If and when their prayers are answered, point your friend back to Jesus.
  • Pray that Muslims world-wide would come to know Jesus.

For more ideas on this important Essential, “Praying with your Muslim friend in Jesus’ name,” listen to THIS podcast.