Everyone says, ‘I will pray about that’, or asks ‘please pray about that for me’. But what does that really mean? Sometimes it is just a pious but empty expression. Sometimes it means adding on a spontaneous prayer at the end of one of the 5 daily prayer rituals. I would like to find out what else it means.
What do I do with ‘I will pray about that’?
Firstly, I pray about it! I take those people and the needs they mentioned and bring them before the Lord. I have a revolving list of people I pray for each morning, and I add these prayer requests to the list. If the need is not confidential I will share it with prayer partners or team members. I like walking and praying, so I might pray about those things as I walk through the neighbourhood or the market or the university or at the beach where families and friends like to gather on weekend afternoons.
Secondly, I ask if I can pray with that person, right there, right then. This works better when we are in a home, and the people around are okay with the idea too. The opportunities I have had for this are quite varied. It may just be a very short simple prayer for the blessing of Allah and for him to meet their needs. It may be a longer prayer for healing in the name of Isa. I may suggest we all do some ablution ritual before the prayer, or it may just be spontaneous. An ‘intention to pray’ clause might start the prayer, or not, depending on how open the friend is to different ways of doing prayer.
A Muslim friend asked to pray together. After a long extempore prayer where I prayed for everything I could think of and threw some good theology in along the way, she surprised me by asking me what I ‘saw’ as I prayed. As our eyes had been open during the prayer, I wasn’t sure what she was asking. (She had never struck me as a Sufi!) Then she said that she had seen the cross during the entire prayer. She has since become a follower of Jesus herself.
Bert’s mum is a big part of my life. She regularly plops on the floor and asks me to pray. I model very simple prayers of thanksgiving, adoration, confession and supplication, and suggest she can pray in a similar way whenever she wants. Sometimes I ask her to repeat each phrase as I pray, so that she has some starting point for this new way of praying. She loves Jesus but only he knows where she is on her spiritual journey.
In January I received a phone call in the street from my Dad that my Mum had fallen over and was in hospital. As soon as I got home and told the friend who was waiting for me there, she said ‘you must sit on the floor and pray’. Of course! Why hadn’t I straight away done that?
So we did.
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Image: Photo by mostafa meraji on Unsplash
(c) When Women Speak… October 2021
Inneke G. Riddell has lived in different cities in a Muslim country in S.E.Asia, working as a university lecturer since 1994. In each place friendships with neighbours and efforts to learn some of the different local languages have helped open up opportunities to share life and faith.