It was almost midnight when my husband, Raouf, and I both woke suddenly to a banging on our outside gate. I couldn’t begin to imagine what someone would want with us at such a late hour, but Raouf went to investigate. I watched from a distance to see what the concern was. We had been living and serving in North Africa for ten years, and we never knew what situation was likely to show up at our door.
I watched Raouf talk to a man at the gate and then lead him into our yard to a prickly pear cactus in the corner. The man pulled out a knife, cut off a large section of the plant, and left. When I asked Raouf what the man wanted, he told me it was the Night of Power, and he asked to use the prickly pear for a ritual to prove special strength. It was a reminder to us that this night was more than just another day on the calendar to committed Muslims. It was a night when they believed Allah heard prayers more than any other time and would even wipe out their past sins.
The Significance of the Night of Power
During the last ten days of the holy month of Ramadan, Laylat al-Qadr—the Night of Power—marks the time when the angel Gabriel brought Allah’s revelation to the prophet Muhammad. Muslims believe that anything done for Allah during this night earns exponentially more good works to tip the scale in their favor for eternity. They have the specific expectation that rituals done this night for Allah’s sake will result in far greater merit in his sight than good deeds performed any other time of year. Because of this belief, this is the night when the most prayers are recited, the Qur’an is most rigorously read, and the mosques are filled the most.
Despite the air of expectation surrounding the Night of Power, there is no assurance of salvation for the follower of Islam. Muslims’ efforts to outweigh their bad works with good works have always been their biggest burden and their biggest source of uncertainty.
“Muslims’ efforts to outweigh their bad works with good works have always been their biggest burden and their biggest source of uncertainty.”
The depth of spiritual insecurity in our region came to bear on our hearts in a new way that night, and we wept for the souls around us who were craving right standing with God. In their efforts to prove their devotion and worthiness, many would resort to drastic measures on the Night of Power to try to secure a better chance at crossing into Paradise on the Last Day. We knew that anyone who would attempt to eat the cactus to save his soul could easily lose it on that very night.
Powerful Prayers for Muslims on This Night
The Night of Power is a critical time for Christians to engage in the spiritual battle by praying earnestly for Muslims. On a night when their hearts and minds are seeking to please God, we can gather around the throne of grace and ask the Lord to make Jesus known to them. When praying for Muslims on this night, which is June 21 this year, ask God for these specific things:
- That Muslims will be introduced to Jesus, the source of all power and eternal security. Pray that Christian believers in the midst of Muslim populations will be strengthened with boldness to share the good news of salvation in a time when their friends are more mindful of their sin and shortcomings.
- That Muslims will recognize the burden of their attempts to gain God’s favor through rituals or special prayers and qur’anic readings. Ask that this realization will give them a hunger to search for something better.
Points of Engagement with Your Muslim Friends
If you have Muslim friends, one way to seek deeper understanding of their spiritual state is to ask them what they do on the Night of Power. This will give you insight not only into what the night means for them but also into the level of their Islamic devotion. If they talk about reading the Qur’an and asking special prayers for God’s forgiveness, you can ask, “If all your sins have been wiped out, are you now sure you will go to paradise?”
If they are an honest Muslim, they will tell you, “Only God knows” (Allah Allum), because there is no assurance of eternal life in Islam. They know that the day after their best deeds, they will sin again, and the need to work to offset the sin will begin again. They can never be sure if their balance is heavier on the side of good works—never.
“They know that the day after their best deeds, they will sin again, and the need to work to offset the sin will begin again.”
At this point, you have the opportunity to share with them about one who has the ultimate power to wipe away all sins—past, present, and future—so we may stand clean before God. This ultimate power is found only in Jesus the Messiah (Isa al-Messih), and the power and assurance for this cleansing is given to all who believe and follow him.
Demonstrating the Power behind What You Believe
As you tell your Muslim friend about the hope within you, is your life reflective of the power of the gospel? Do you actively demonstrate trust in your Savior and faithfully walk in light of his commands? Our lives should reflect Jesus in such a way that it draws our Muslim neighbors to ask what makes us different from those who don’t follow Jesus. This transformed life is the result of time in his Word, the filling of his Spirit, and complete surrender to his way for our life.
May you know his power as you pray for Muslims and demonstrate Christ on this very important day of the year and always, that Jesus may be glorified.