Transforming our festivals of faith into seasons of intercession may help counter the hate and despair that fuels the call to kill.

They published a Ramadan prayer guide calling on Christians to pray for the conversion of Muslims.

This is not necessarily a bad idea.

The liberty to witness to our deepest convictions is a fundamental human right. So is the freedom to convert from any religion (or no religion) to some other faith and practice.

Beyond that, however, it is a good thing for people to remember one another in prayer. It is difficult to despise or ignore those for whom we pray.

What if Christians around the world prayed for Muslims? What if we prayed for their happiness, their safety in times of war, for their general well-being?

These are universal human aspirations; they are also the will of God. Are we not to pray that “God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven”?

More importantly, what if we also prayed to understand the needs and hopes of Muslim people? What if we actually confessed the evil and malice that has too often shaped our treatment of Muslims? What if we sought forgiveness and reconciliation? Would not this be a good thing?

It would call forth a new stanza of the old spiritual I learned as a Baptist from the South: “It’s not the Muslim, not the Jew, but it’s me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer.”

Suppose, then, during the celebration of Advent and Christmas, we invited Muslims to pray for us? Their call to prayer would sound forth from minarets around the world inviting the faithful of Islam to make intercession for Christians. Would this not also be a good thing?

They could pray that we might live quiet and peaceful lives, escape the dangers and tragedies of life, and practice compassion and self-control. They could also confess Muslim meanness toward Christians and in this way seek reconciliation between the world’s largest religious groups.
This is a most improbable scenario, I know, but may I take it one step further?

What is to keep Christians and Muslims from praying for Jews? Is there a better time to pray for Jews than as they celebrate the December holiday of Hanukkah?

Can we imagine a world when the annual festivals of Jews, Christians and Muslims serve as seasons of prayer for all who worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob?

What might be the spiritual and social power of such a concert of prayer?
Other voices are calling for hatred, violence and war. Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders are using religious rhetoric to urge their people, not to pray, but to fight.

But the Book sacred to the faithful of all three world religions sets forth another command: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” There is no better way to obey this command than for all of us to pray for one another.

Transforming our festivals of faith into seasons of intercession may help counter the hate and despair that fuels the call to kill.

A groundswell of intercession just might unleash the power of God so as to alter the social and political equation. It could even change the course of world affairs.

Dwight Moody is dean of the chapel at Georgetown College in Georgetown, Ky.

Share This