Building Bridges

Friday, November 9, 2018

There are many teachings in Islam that believers in Christ can use as bridges to help Muslims enter the Kingdom of God. The Quran states that God created Adam and Eve, that he sent the flood but rescued Noah, that he spoke to Abraham, that he gave the Torah (Pentateuch) to Moses, that he sent Jesus who was born of a virgin.

All these narratives, common to both Muslims and Christians, can be used as bridges to bring Muslims closer to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Not all the details of these stories in Islam fully agree with the biblical accounts, but they can work as starting points.

It is also worthwhile to establish friendships with Muslims as you seek to share the Good News of Christ with them. Friends trust each other, depend on each other and desire each other’s well-being. Building bridges of common narratives and friendship pays dividends.

Prayer

Great God in heaven, because of your mercy and grace we come into your presence. We bow down in awe and reverence before you, our Creator and Redeemer. We present our needs to you. Anoint me and my fellow prayer warriors with your Spirit of wisdom and understanding (Isaiah 11:1-2).

Muslims need to come to Jesus, know his person and work, and receive his grace. Help me declare the message of the cross with love, clarity and effectiveness. Give me courage to tell Muslims about the measureless love of God at Calvary. Touch their hearts with your grace. Fill their minds with your Word.

Open my eyes to see and understand your plans and purposes for Muslims. Help me follow the example of Jesus who went about teaching, preaching and healing (Matthew 9:35).

In his mighty name, I pray. Amen.

Promise

Foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord to serve him, to love the name of the Lord, and to worship him… these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer (Isaiah 56:6-7, NIV).

Persecuted Church

Friday, November 2, 2018

This Sunday is designated as a day of prayer for the persecuted Church worldwide. Christians are undergoing severe persecution in many parts of the world. It is estimated that during the 20th century, more Christians were martyred than in the prior 19 centuries combined! In Muslim countries, the followers of Christ are often mistreated, imprisoned and murdered.

The Islamic system does not allow freedom of religion. Religious, political and social authorities serve as guardians to protect that system. They have a long arm through the government and police, the mosque and sheikhs, work and family, friends and neighbors, and so forth. The Islamic system persecutes and disposes of people who leave Islam. Today untold numbers of our brothers and sisters in Christ are suffering persecution.

Prayer

Sovereign God, just as Herod, Pilate and other leaders made plans against Jesus (Acts 4: 27), rulers and common people in today’s world are persecuting your children!

Brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering persecution do not love their lives so much as to shrink from death (Revelation 12:11). I may not know them personally, but I intercede for them. You taught us to “bear one another’s burdens,” so I want to stand alongside them. They are members of the Body of Christ; when one member suffers, the rest of the body suffers.

O God Almighty, be with those who are enduring a nightmare of mistreatment, beatings and abuse. I bring their plight to your attention, merciful Father. Visit them. Soothe their pain. Comfort their souls. Encourage their hearts. May your face shine upon them.

In prayer I ask you to wake up the Church around the world to pray for persecuted believers and come to their assistance. May Christians who occupy influential positions act to alleviate the pain of our suffering brothers and sisters. Help them, Father, not to remain silent. Move them to respond to the tragedy of the persecuted Church.

Promise

Your healing will quickly appear… the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. …you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. …your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The LORD… will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail (Isaiah 58:8-11, NIV).

Legacy of Violence

Friday, October 26, 2018

The most important foundations for violence in Islam are found in the teachings of the Quran[1] and the example of the life of Muhammad[2].

Muhammad waged wars, used violence, carried off booty from conquered enemies, established a state and a government, used the sword, killed people, and promised gain to his followers.

The Jews in Medina[3] were subjected to Muhammad’s fury and rage. They pleaded with him to allow them to leave Medina, but he refused. They surrendered to him without any resistance. He then ordered trenches to be dug in the marketplace in Medina. About 600-900 Jewish men were beheaded and dumped in the trenches. The women and children were sold as slaves. The story of the prophet’s life is replete with many such atrocious and infamous acts.

Prayer

Our Father, the only true God, we thank you for the chance to pray to you on behalf of Muslims. They are in dire need of Jesus. Some of us may find it difficult to ask you to help people who are wreaking havoc through acts of terrorism. But we remember that you are forgiving and compassionate, and you have taught us to be the same.

I pray that through the power of the blood of Jesus and his sacrificial love, you will bring Muslims to know you and live in fellowship with you. Help them repent. May they forget and put behind them Muhammad’s haunting legacy. Save them from going to eternity without Christ. Deal with them according to your grace and mercy, not as all of us fallen human beings deserve.

How precious is your unfailing love, O God! All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings (Psalm 36:7). Amen.

Promise

By his blood, Christ redeemed us and forgave our sins. This is God’s abundant grace that he lavished on us (Ephesians 1:7-8, SAB).

Footnotes

[1] Quran 4:94; 48:22.
[2] Quran 8:65; 47:4; 48:29.
[3] The tribe of Quraiza.

Shaky Edifice

Friday, October 19, 2018

In reality, the Quran is a jumble of mismatched incidents of history, contradictory teachings and haphazard information. Muslims are not allowed to ask questions that express doubt or incredulity about their religion. Severe punishment is meted out to those who dare challenge their creed. In the past, this put terror in the hearts of thinkers. But not today. There is a ripple of dissatisfaction in today’s generation that lives in a global village and uses computers, cell phones and the internet! Because of technological connectedness, the notion that Muslims are not supposed to ask questions does not play well among the educated of the 21st century. Many of them refuse to parrot their forefathers.

The very foundations of Islam are shaking (see Matthew 7:24-27; Luke 6: 47-49)!

Prayer

All-wise and gracious Lord and God, our Father and Redeemer, we thank you for your love and sacrifice at Calvary.

We sense you want to tell Muslims, “The visions of your prophets were false and worthless; they did not expose your sin to ward off your captivity. The oracles they gave you were false and misleading” (Lamentations 2:14). It is true, Muslims have listened to false, worthless and misleading visions. And now they are in a miserable captivity. That is why we are approaching your throne of grace today. Have mercy on them. Lead them to repent and put their faith in Jesus Christ, the only Savior from sin, the only One who said, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6).

I pray that you will rescue them from the dominion of darkness and bring them into the Kingdom of your beloved Son (Colossians 1:13).

Promise

Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28, NLT).

Haman

Friday, October 12, 2018

Haman was the highest official in the Persian royal palace, second only to the king. But he hated the Jews and planned to kill them all in one day, and he got the king to sign a decree to that effect. There were many thousands of Jews in the kingdom. That meant it was set to be a mass killing sanctioned by the authorities!

Before the plan was carried out, however, God orchestrated events so that the tables were turned. Haman, the official behind the plot, was executed, his children were killed and along with them all the enemies of the Jews. No harm came to the Jews (read the book of Esther). Terrorism is nothing new!

In recent years, various Islamic groups have engaged in terrorism by persecuting, abusing, raping and murdering Christians, other non-Muslims, and even Muslims who do not agree with them.

Prayer

O God of Peniel, you revealed yourself to Jacob and rescued him from the anger and revenge of Esau (Genesis 32:30; 33). You upset the plot of Haman and rescued the Jews from his evil intentions. You thwarted the plan of the Assyrians against King Hezekiah and his people. Glory be to you.

You still rescue and deliver today. We pray against the evil done by the “Hamans” of today. May they repent of their wickedness and rush to the cross of Jesus. May their lives be changed by your power.

Almighty God, change them from terrorists to saints. May the Holy Spirit dwell in them and anoint them to bring Good News to the poor, to proclaim freedom to the prisoners, recovery of sight to the blind, and liberty to the oppressed.

In the name that is above every name, the name of Jesus Christ, your Son, my Lord. Amen.

Promise

I have seen wicked and ruthless people flourishing like a tree in its native soil. But when I looked again, they were gone! (Psalm 37:35-36, NLT).

Two Social Spaces

Friday, October 5, 2018

In a typical Muslim society, there are two spaces: the home, and the public arena. The public arena is the place for men; it represents authority and religion. Home is the place for women and children; it is to be under the control and continuous supervision of the men, who are to provide food, protection and direction. Hence, one group has authority, and the other is to submit to that authority. One group issues orders, and the other is to obey those orders. Briefly, there are two worlds: one for males and one for females.[1]

This sociological dichotomy results mainly from seeing women negatively as a source of temptation, lure and seduction for men. This also helps explain some of the tension that exists in typical Muslim societies regarding women who work outside the home or go out of the home without a male chaperone. Their actions are viewed as an invasion of the male world and an encroachment on it.

Prayer

Righteous God, you created us all equal. You did not create two classes of humans. Men and women equally express your creative power and your divine genius. You made us all in your own image and meant that we would glorify you.

We acknowledge that all of us are sinners. We all, both men and women, are guilty of breaking your holy commandments. That is why I bring Muslims to your attention today. Have mercy on them. Bring them into the Kingdom of your blessed Son Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Help Muslim women recognize Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Set them free from the belief that they are a degree lower than men.

Promise

The earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD (Isaiah 11:9; see also Habakkuk 2:14).

Footnotes

[1] For more details, see Fatima Mernissi, Beyond the Veil, Arabic Edition, 1996, especially chapter 8.

Kurds

Friday, September 28, 2018

Since ancient times, the Kurds have occupied an area northeast of Mesopotamia known as Kurdistan. However, that area today is divided among Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria. When the Church Council of Nicaea was held in A.D. 325, there were Christian representatives from the Kurdish region. That is the council that formulated the Nicene Creed.

Today, there are about 30 million Kurdish people. Most of them live in the countries mentioned above, while the rest are scattered throughout Europe, the United States, and other parts of the world. For many decades, they have been struggling to unify their homeland and gain independence and identity.

While most Kurds are Muslim, there is a religious tolerance among them that is rare among other Muslim groups. In fact, recently many Kurds have abandoned Islam to follow other religions.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, I intercede for the Kurdish people. Send the light of your Son, Jesus our Lord, to shine in the hearts of millions of Kurds. Open their hearts to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior.

O Lord Jesus, Lord of the harvest, I ask you to send Gospel workers to the Kurds. Call many believers to share the Good News with these people. I pray also for the missionaries, pastors and evangelists who are serving there now. Pour out your Holy Spirit on them, and enable them to be effective witnesses. Protect their families and encourage them.

I pray for our fellow believers in Christ among the Kurds, our spiritual brothers and sisters. Guard and keep them. Protect them from the assaults of the enemy that tries to inflict disease, strife, loss, sin and suffering.

Alleviate the suffering of the Kurdish people. As they endure mistreatment and persecution from their fellow humans and coreligionists, reveal yourself to them in your compassion, love and care.

In Jesus’ precious name. Amen.

Promise

We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it (Numbers 13:30, NIV).