Is it a good idea for Christians to fast during Ramadan? I have friends living among Muslims for the sake of God’s kingdom who do so as a way of empathizing with their neighbors and co-workers and opening doors of conversation.
If ever I was going to fast during Ramadan, the fall of 2003 was the time. We were living in northern England that year when the fasting month ran from late October to late November. The daylight hours, during which observant Muslims are required to abstain from food, water and many other pleasures, were few and treasured. Sunrise around 8.30am. Sunset about 4.30pm. It would have been the easiest Ramadan ever! We felt for Muslims fasting in Australia!
Given the crazy tension currently characterizing Christian-Muslim interaction, I propose we fast a bit this Ramadan, which goes from to May 27th until June 24th. I plan to skip one meal each Friday (I know, really swinging for the fence, eh?). I’ll use that fast to focus prayer on Muslims near me and far away. I’ll also pray against the violence that sometimes raises it’s ugly head during Ramadan. If you’ll join me in that, fire off an email and I’ll send you a very brief prayer outline to fuel your efforts. Please forward this to your tribe and let’s ask God for a crowd of faster/pray-ers!
If you want to take it a step further, check this out: My friends Jessey and Jeff are promoting an effort in which Muslims invite Christians to share a fast breaking meal (iftar) with them during Ramadan. Check here to see what events are happening near you.
Next week we’ll hear from a Muslim what Ramadan means to him.
Next Friday is a significant day. Mostly because our next to youngest child graduates from high school! (Congratulate Alia here!) It also marks the beginning of Ramadan, the Muslim fasting month. From the evening of May 26th until the evening of June 25th, faithful Muslims will avoid eating during daylight hours. They will also refrain from smoking and sex, while emphasizing generosity and good deeds.
I used to think this was a dopey way to fast. Just don’t eat during the day, then feast at night! Three things have lightened my judgement: It’s more fasting than I do. It’s got to be hard to stop smoking every day when you start again every night. And three, it’s not my religion, so maybe I should be a little hesitant to judge their fasting!
Why should you care that it’s Ramadan? Two reasons. For the food! The family oriented feasting and fun at night is a big deal. Ramadan is sort of like Black Friday for Muslim grocers! The evening fast-breaking meal is called iftar and I encourage you to try to get invited to one!
Secondly, Ramadan is a good time to pray both for your Muslim friends and Muslims generally. It’s a spiritual-seeking time for many. Pray that God would speak, guide and enlighten. If it would be helpful, quickly grab a copy of 30 DAYS Muslim Prayer Guide: 2017. This is a high quality guide that will inform and energize your prayers. They also have pdf versions for both adults and kids.
Do you ever feel like I do, that there’s no way little you can make a difference against the massive issues the world faces? Like maybe the only rational thing to do is eat Fritos and watch Jimmy Fallon cuddle animals with the Crocodile Hunter’s son?
I’ve got good news: Little people like you and me can make a difference because we’re kids of a big God who hears and responds when we pray.
Granted, prayer doesn’t often work the way I want. Basically because it’s tough for me to think more than 18 secs and 30 feet down the road! But here’s some solid “Piper on prayer” that never fails to give me perspective. Piper talks of God, “beckoning us into our share in the running of the universe!” Whoa! Serious? I think so.
And if it is so, you and me praying for Muslims specifically and some of our broader issues with Muslims corporately (Perceived or real, I’m not judging here.), can make a difference.
If you’re with me so far, can I suggest you pray for yourself, for Muslims and the rest of the world the words many faithful Muslims pray many times each day, “Guide us to the straight path.” Sura 1.6 That’s what we want, right? Wisdom to follow God, for ourselves and everyone else.
My strong conviction is that Jesus spoke truthfully when he said, “I am the way.” I want you and me and Muslims everywhere to find and walk the straight path, to experience every bit of the abundant life Jesus has in mind for us.
Join me and Muslims everywhere in praying that God would help us walk that straight path.
If your church is a little edgy and you’re more than a little brave, you may want to try this.