With the Islamic month of fasting beginning later that week, Sahar had offered to show me her favorite shops and market stalls for buying foods traditionally eaten after each day’s fast. She ended the tour in a bakery. As we shared large plates of pastries and cheese dishes, Sahar explained how she and her family would observe Ramadan. The anticipation in her voice echoed the excitement palpable throughout the village, now festively adorned with lanterns and strings of colored lights.
Our discussion continued into the street, where, with religious beliefs still on her mind, Sahar pointed to a Catholic school and asked, “How is what you believe different than what the priests there teach?”
I had been waiting months for her to become open to a conversation like this.
A Call to Focused Prayer
Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, is marked by increased spiritual activity, and discussions about beliefs are common. As one of the five pillars of Islam, Muslims are instructed to observe a strict fast each day from before the first light of dawn until after sunset. The discipline required to abstain from all forms of food and drink, smoking, and other pleasures is intended to increase devotion and submission to Allah and to atone for transgressions committed in the last year.
Among Muslim-majority populations, Ramadan is a communal event. Many businesses reduce their hours, restaurants close during the day, and women spend hours preparing large meals for breaking the fast. While only adults are required to fast, many children sense the community spirit and join the family observance. Each day after sunset, Muslims traditionally break the fast with a plate of dates before many—especially men and boys—gather at the mosque for sunset prayers. Families and friends then enjoy a large, extended iftar meal before the final prayers of the night.
Many Muslims pray an additional, sixth prayer each night during Ramadan, known as tarawih. According to a traditional saying (hadith) of Muhammad, “Whoever establishes prayers during the nights of Ramadan faithfully out of sincere faith and hoping to attain Allah’s rewards (not for showing off), all his past sins will be forgiven.”1
Over 1.9 billion Muslims—almost 25 percent of the world’s population2—dedicate their lives to earning Allah’s mercy, hoping to attain forgiveness. Yet this hope offers no assurance. Even Muhammad said that he would not enter Paradise unless Allah chose to bestow mercy upon him—a somber contrast to the gospel which proclaims once-for-all atonement for sins and eternal security for those who trust Christ. But many of these 1.9 billion Muslims have never had access to Christ’s message.
Ramadan presents a unique opportunity for followers of Christ to engage Muslims with the hope of the gospel. If Muslim communities unite in daily prayers, how much more should we as believers bow in focused prayer that God’s glory would be made known among those who walk in darkness?
I invite you to pray throughout Ramadan—this year from March 23 to April 21. Pray at a specific time each day, perhaps each night as Muslims are praying the tarawih prayer, after sundown and before you go to sleep.
There are at least four ways Christians can pray for Muslims during Ramadan:
1. Pray for Increased Spiritual Awareness and Openness to the Gospel
For devout Muslims, Ramadan affects every part of life. The unremitting demands of hunger and thirst are a constant reminder of the duties of Islam, and many Muslims increase their level of spiritual activity by reciting the Qur’an and attending prayers at the mosque more frequently, sometimes throughout the night.
This spiritual intensity often builds to a climax during the last 10 days of Ramadan, a period traditionally believed to include Layat al-Qadr, the Night of Power, when Muhammad is said to have divinely received the Qur’an. Prayers offered on this night are considered particularly meritorious.
This increased focus on spirituality can prompt some Muslims, like Sahar, to become more open to discussing other religious beliefs. Pray that God would stir curiosity in the hearts of Muslims who may be hostile toward the gospel at other times of the year. Pray that he would open their eyes to the hopelessness of false beliefs and sovereignly direct them toward opportunities to hear the message of Christ.
2. Pray for Muslims to Gain Access to the Gospel
Of the more than 4,000 predominantly-Muslim people groups on earth, 86 percent remain unreached, according to Joshua Project statistics. This means that few, if any, believers reside among these peoples. In many of these areas, political, social, and religious restrictions make it difficult—and often dangerous—for Muslims to ever have an opportunity to hear the gospel.
Pray for Muslims to gain access to the good news of salvation, no matter how remote or restrictive their homeland. Pray that God would send more laborers into these harvest fields (Matthew 9:38). And as these missionaries and national believers go, pray for wisdom, bold witness, and provision for their task.
These unreached Muslim people groups live not only in the Middle East and North Africa, but also spread across Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Balkans, and other localities in Europe and the Americas. ABWE’s Open Initiative has identified several Muslim groups as strategic for engaging with the gospel. Please join us in praying for new teams forming in these regions.
3. Pray for Muslims Experiencing Crisis
Several Muslim-majority nations have been shaken by cataclysmic tragedy: ongoing wars, famine, economic collapse, and natural disasters. The February 6 earthquake in Turkey and Syria devastated cities, killing over 50,000 and affecting millions who found their loved ones, homes, and livelihoods collapsed into rubble. In Syria, the world’s largest refugee and displacement crisis continues after more than a decade of brutal war, leaving 6.8 million refugees scattered across the Middle East and Europe. After the Taliban reclaimed Afghanistan in August 2022, many Afghans were also left with an uncertain future, separated from families and villages. Other Muslim nations face daily suffering hidden from Western view.
Christ alone offers stability and peace in crisis. Pray that those becoming disillusioned with Islam after years of devastation and trauma would find hope for their souls. Pray that times of upheaval would place Muslims within reach of believers and allow new opportunities for demonstrating the love of Christ.
4. Pray for Opportunities to Engage Your Muslim Friends With the Gospel
Closer to home, pray that Ramadan would allow you to intentionally strengthen relationships with Muslim friends and coworkers. As you pray, actively seek opportunities to initiate meaningful conversations and to ask respectful, honest questions about your friend’s beliefs, allowing the conversation to shift to openings for the gospel. Practice and accept hospitality. If you are invited to an iftar meal, linger with your friends in community. The gospel spreads through relationship.
This Ramadan season, may we as followers of Christ devote ourselves to prayer. And may one day those who walked in darkness raise their voices with all the redeemed, crying aloud: “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:10).
Editor’s Note: Sahar’s name has been changed for security.
1. Sahih al-Bukhari 37, Book 2, Hadith 30.
2. Joshua Project, https://joshuaproject.net/religions/6.
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