March 22, 2012

The Day I prayed with my friend, The Muslim

 

King_road_tower_jeddah_k.s.a.

WOW!  I jut got back from the Middle East, and I am loaded with stories that may take us through the year.  We had a tremendous opportunity to speak with fellow Christians from all over the world.  Some Indian, others Nigerian, some New Zealanders, Canadians, Australians, and YES, we even had a chance to fellowship some native to the Middle East Region.  It was an awesome time!

One day, I had a chance to go and meet with a Muslim friend for lunch.  I met him at a gathering in the U.S. attended a few years ago, and I was excited to see his home town.  We had a great conversation about the two biggest religions in the world, and much of our time centered around how the Koran and Bible speak to their perspective followers.

We talked about the differeneces in Islam and Christianity. 
We talked about what it means to follow Jesus.
We talked about the need to pray and make sure we continue to live our our faith.
We even had a chance to laugh together about some of the things people often mis-interpret. 

There's no doubt there are differences in the two Religions.  The concept of God existing in Trinity is foreign to the Muslim, even quite offensive.  The concept Jesus was indeed divinity rather than another prophet separates us from a core belief system.  But this wasn't an evangelical meeting. 

It was just a meeting of friends. 
Two men interested in breaking bread together. 

It was interesting to hear how fear plagues both faiths, and what perceptions of Christianity plague his homeland.  As we kept talking for what seemed like hours,  I had a chance to articulate the concerns from a Christian point of view that Islam poses to the West. 

At the end of our talk, He excused himself to one of his daily prayer times, and I asked him if I could pray with him.  He looked at me quizzically, 'Do you really want to pray with me?' 

"Well, you pray to Allah.  I pray to Yahweh.  I believe I need to pray as much as you feel like you need to pray. So...Let's do this" 

So there in an office building the two of us began to pray.  He spoke in Arabic, and I started reciting "Our Father, who art in Heaven Hallowed be thy name.  Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven..." 

After we finished praying he asked, "Do you want to know what I said?" 

"Sure, I'd love to know how your prayers go?" And he began telling me how he prays 5 times everyday, and ensured me he was asking God to help him to love people. He told me how he prepared each time to pray to Almighty God, the Creator of the Universe, for the help to keep himself pure in his business, his family, and his daily workings with others.

"What did you pray?" he asked. 

"I just focused on the way Jesus taught us to pray in Matthew.  I prayed the Lord's Prayer." 

He looked at me with compassion in his eyes and said, "Good for you!"

So there you have it.  A Christian praying in the same space as a Muslim.

I didn't have to fear. 
I wasn't intimidated. 
I didn't even give it a second thought. 
There were two men, trying to find meaning in life in the perspective of Loving God, and Loving our Neighbor, No matter what system they choose to believe. 

We didn't have the haggle about the differences in our faith, and there are MANY!
We didn't have to prove each other right or wrong.
We didn't compromise the fact we were praying differently.

But we did, if only for a short time, enjoy the ability to respect each other.  We had a chance to show the world (even though it was only us in the room) peace can be accomplished between two people here on earth.

Which is really how Jesus asked us to pray right?  "Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done, ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN."

No fighting.
No War.
No indignation.
Just two neighbors praying to the God they worship. 

Sure, both of us believe the other will be judged someday, but this was not that day.  And neither of us will be doing the judging anyway.  It was as pure of a 'love your neighbor' scene as I've ever been a part of. 

I'll never forget my time with him. 



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