UI – Part 219 – Prayer – Christian vs. Muslim
Why Pray? What is prayer? Who listens?
It seems just about everyone prays at some time in their lives. At least they make the appearance of praying. A look to the sky, hands raised, on bended knee, hands clasped, folded and pointed. Heads bowed. To whom, to what, and for what end do we seek the Authority above all Authorities, the Absolute? From the gridiron (doing the Tebow), other sports fields, to crash sites, to areas damaged by hurricanes and other disasters, to churches to streets in Muslim areas, to cathedrals, to bedrooms, individually and in large and small gatherings, people will pray. Are they all believers? Or what do they all believe?
Should prayer be a recitation of learned words, or a heartfelt discussion with the Lord?
Muslims have appointed times each day to pray – 5 times. It is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. They prostrate themselves, facing Mecca, and recite memorized verbiage that reaffirms their ideology – the first Sura of the Quran (Al-Fitihah). It is rote. It is often a collective gathering where aligned rows of men take to a location, indoors or out, public or private, to honor Allah. We seldom see women in such a condition, assuming they do their ritual in private. Muhammad is not mentioned in Sura 1. Allah is praised, shown respect, his help in general is sought, and the faithful ask for guidance to be on the right path. The path is the one which Allah has for those chosen (predestination?). Forgiveness is not mentioned.
The Bible, the book of Matthew and Luke, contain the Lord’s Prayer, which is as a recommendation for those who wish to pray but have not words. It is a recommendation from Jesus. See Matthew 6. Jesus suggests praying privately, “go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.” (Matthew 6:5). Then he suggests how you should pray, but it is not limited to what follows (Matthew 6:9-13). The content is suggestive as to what should be included. The Lord’s Prayer shows respect, worship – “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”, asks for bread (specific – physical), forgiveness, guidance to avoid temptation, and deliverance from evil (specific – spiritual). In later parts the Bible suggests to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions” (Ephesians 6:18) including all kinds of requests, to include prayer for believers and non-believers. Also to pray the gospel will be made known, its mystery revealed (Ephesians 6:19). It is not a rote commentary, but to be an expression of Love, the mind fully engaged with the Holy Spirit, being thankful for the gift provided by God, his blessings, Grace and Mercy, and to accept that which you cannot control.
Muslims repeat the same words 5 times each day. When they pray it is the words of Sura 1.
Christians have a dialog with God. They praise Him, they humble themselves before Him and express contrition, noting their sinful nature. They consider the plight of others and seek guidance in their daily lives. They are hopeful, loving, and caring. It is not wants they seek, but the ability as servants of the Lord to accept outcomes and be patient. The acronym ACTS is a guide, meaning Adoration (A), Confession (C), Thanksgiving (T), and Supplication (S). When in prayer they are enjoying their relationship with God; it is a one-on-one time.
Example: Dear Lord, we give you praise and honor you for creating this world in which we live which demonstrates your glory, magnificence and holiness. (A). We are sinners and have sinned in our words and deeds. We do not lead a perfect life and constantly need the forgiveness you have provided through Christ. (C). We thank you for your love and devotion and filling us with the Holy Spirit as our guarantee and reminder of your saving Grace and Mercy; for which we are so grateful. We are most thankful dear Lord, for the stars at night, the sunshine during the day, the rain, the food you provide, the air we breathe, the water we drink, and our ability as the humans you made to think, to discern and to choose. (T). We come to you our Father to ask for peace in the world, to guide us in the choices we make, to give us pause as we answer questions, to make well those who are ill and infirmed, to give our military purpose and the skills, equipment and training necessary to protect people from harm and secure our homes, and to instill in our leaders the intellect, council and fortitude to guide their nation well, without ill-will, with truth, without cowardice or deceit. And, lastly, we pray that our children, grandchildren, friends, neighbors, and those who do not believe as we do can live in harmony. And dear Lord continue to strengthen me in my understanding and knowledge as you have with the Word, to not judge others, leaving that to you, and to be a beacon to those that have not as yet found the path leading to an eternal life with you. (S) Amen
There are no rigid rules in the Christian prayer as there are for the Muslim.
Give praise to the Lord and be thankful for what he provides.
Grace and Peace