As a cross-cultural Christian in a 99.9% Muslim country, I find Ramadan to be filled with stark contrasts. On the one hand, multigenerational families gathering around tables each night eating homemade delicacies and food drives that collect pantry staples for poor families are almost universal. On the other hand, thievery due to pressure to buy gifts at the end of the month along with arguments, fist fights, traffic snarls, and shortened tempers due to nicotine and caffeine withdrawals all increase during the 30 days.
The sharp contrasts powerfully illustrate the ineffectiveness of outward religious practices to bring inward transformation. And yet, so few seem bothered with this reality and even fewer wrestle and search for a solution. Five times a day, the Muslim call to prayer continues to ring out. It echoes and clashes from the various mosques in my neighborhood that aren’t in sync with each other. Five times a day, the land is flooded with announcements from loudspeakers saying, “there is no God but Allah and Mohammed is his messenger.” Year after year, many abstain from food, water, and nicotine during the daylight hours in an effort to appease God and try to earn merit.
In the midst of this environment, I and a relatively small community of other Christians seek to bring the Good News of God’s kingdom and the life, death, burial, and resurrection of His Christ to people who have had virtually no access for 1400 years. Such circumstances cause me to cry out, Who is sufficient for these things? (2 Cor. 2:16b, NKJV).
And that desperation, that utter helplessness I can feel as I engage in Gospel conversations with neighbors, friends, and strangers, leaves me no choice but to pray. The longer I live in the Muslim world, the more convinced I am that only the power of prayer and God’s Spirit can bring transformation.
So, when I heard about the opportunity to champion 24/7 prayer for the entire 30 days of Ramadan last year for the Muslim country that I want to reach with the Gospel, I knew I needed to say, “Yes!”
The team at Pray4Movement.org built a free, simple tool that empowers anyone who wants to promote continuous prayer for a people group, city, country, or region. In just a few clicks and by answering a few questions, I received a web page of my own that I could customize and then send out to my friends, family, coworkers, etc. They could then sign-up for time slots to pray.
I only needed to find 96 people who would commit to pray for a different 15-minute time slot each day of Ramadan to cover the entire 30 days with prayer. Intercessors received an email each day before their committed time slot with a reminder and a link to go view that day’s biblical prayer fuel. The Pray4Movement team developed content that could be customized for my people group with just a few keystrokes. However, I had complete freedom to write my own custom prayer requests and prayer guides. By God’s grace, we filled the 30 days with nonstop prayer!
Only in eternity will we know the full impact of what happened as the Church prayed extraordinarily for the Muslims in the country where I live, but I believe God answered our prayers and is answering them in beautiful ways. Since Ramadan 2022, our team has witnessed a significant increase in groups of people interested in reading, discovering, and discussing the Bible with their friends.
Our country wasn’t the only one that tried to go for continuous prayer coverage during Ramadan 2022. It turns out that 84 different champions took on the challenge impacting 64 countries. At least 6,395 intercessors filled more than 170,000 15-minute prayer slots.
One prayer champion in a sub-Saharan Muslim nation said they saw God move in powerful ways during Ramadan as people prayed. A Muslim man who cut off relationship with his Christian children began calling them, bringing hope of restored relationship. An elderly woman who refused to submit her life to Christ for decades accepted Christ during Ramadan. Other Christians in the country were compelled to grow their prayer life for their Muslim neighbors and sought to be brighter lights among them. Evangelism efforts among this people group in the weeks that followed proved more fruitful.
One of the most persecuted countries in the world rallied more than 100% prayer coverage during the 30 days. The prayer champion for that Muslim nation said, “I don’t think that we know even a small percentage of the impact that was made by praying 24/7 during Ramadan this year. Consistently, we heard how many people felt a heavy spiritual oppression. I think that signifies that we are pushing against the enemy in an effective way. We had several people around the globe that communicated just how impactful it was to have the prayer fuel and were encouraged by the unity of praying together with others. We are expecting that fruit will come from this initiative and some evidence of that is already coming.”
Another prayer champion working in a Muslim country in South Asia said, “We had over 100 people praying daily for the work, and we know of at least three Muslims that came to faith during this time. Normally, Ramadan is very slow, with few responses or new believers. So this year was different! Five more have followed Jesus in the month after Ramadan!”
As if these stories aren’t glorious enough, something important happens in the intercessors, themselves, as they devote 15-minutes a day to pray for a Muslim people group, city, country, or region. Yes, their prayers make eternal impact in the spiritually dark places they pray on behalf of. But their prayers also make an impact in their own lives. They begin to be changed and God softens their hearts for the people for whom they are praying. If you pray for the nations consistently, you’ll find that at some level you will have to go into action for the nations through giving, going, mobilizing, or serving.
During Ramadan 2022 (April 1-May 1), when all of the time committed to pray for Muslims across all of the 84 different initiatives was added up, it totaled 4 years, 359 days of prayer or 43,660 hours! The team at Pray4Movement is asking God for even more prayer initiatives and multiples of prayer hours totaled for the Muslim world in Ramadan 2023.
My heart aches for the millions in the land that I live in to know the Christ that came to save them not just from their evil deeds, but also from their good deeds done from wrong motives-from selfishness and self-righteousness, from outward religion to inward transformation. This Ramadan (Mar 22-April 21, 2023), technology has given our generation unprecedented opportunity to pray with insight and specificity for Muslim people groups, cities, and countries. Would you champion prayer for one of them among your family, friends, congregations, and partners?
This article was first published in Mission Frontiers: Women in Mission, Mar/April 2023 , pages 11-13. It was used here with permission.