Yesterday, on the second day of Ramadan, Arab-Christian author and teacher Nabeel Jabbour spoke at my church (see Nabeel Jabbour
to learn about his NavPress books about ministry to Muslims). His purpose was to help our congregation better understand God's heart for Muslim people. At the end of his talk he encouraged us to commit to daily prayer for the salvation of Muslims. I pondered his challenge--but frankly it overwhelmed me. I take prayer commitments seriously, so to promise to pray daily for one specific issue for the rest of my life (conceivably) was more than I felt I could do. To make that kind of vow I would have to know for certain that God Himself was calling me to it. So, before I left the service, I prayed and asked God to show me what He wanted.
As I left the auditorium, I was handed a copy of the 30 Days Muslim Prayer Focus. Last evening during my personal prayer time, I opened to the page for August 23: "Pray that Muslims will be able to meet sincere practicing believers and discern how they are different from cultural Christians." I instantly thought of Muslims I have known throughout my life--mostly university students. Their names and faces came to mind so I prayed for them to meet believers in Jesus who would love them and introduce them to a real faith in Christ. Hmm. I can do this, I thought. I'm still not sure if God is calling me to a lifetime commitment to pray for Muslims, but I can pray for 30 days, at least.
So I committed to pray for the salvation of Muslims from now until the end of Ramadan this year, September 20. We'll see what God has for me after that. Meanwhile, my experience made me think of the value of prayer initiatives. I know I should pray more for my city, pastor, president, persecuted Christians around the world, and, yes, Muslims. Yet even though I believe it's important, even though I want to, sometimes the challenge and commitment feel so huge that I don't even get started. But a prayer initiative with a defined ending date feels do-able.
Do you ever feel overwhelmed by all the important things that call for our intercession? How do you handle these enormous challenges and opportunities without getting overwhelmed and discouraged? What prayer initiatives have helped you pray beyond your normal prayer list?