I recently had the privilege of delivering the sermon at my local church. I took the opportunity to share from Acts 17:26-27,
“From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.”
As the author of a recent global survey revealing unprecedented turnings of thousands of Muslims to faith in Jesus Christ, I used the opportunity to point out that it is God who determines the times and boundaries of the world’s peoples. I shared with the congregation that it is no accident that God has allowed more than 3 million Muslims to find their new homes here in the United States.
The reason for this relocation, I said, was so that “perhaps Muslim immigrants in America might reach out for him and find him.” For this divine appointment to be realized, though, requires us to acknowledge that God has also placed us here in proximity to more than 3 million Muslims, so that we would share with them the life-changing message of Jesus Christ.
During the invitation, I invited the congregation to pray for Muslims, and for themselves, that God would use us to bring them to saving faith in Jesus Christ.
One man, shoulders slumped, walked down the aisle to the altar where I was standing. As he took my hand, it was evident to me that he was weeping. “I lost my son in Afghanistan,” he said, “And I’ve hated those people ever since. But I know that I can’t follow Jesus and hate Muslims. I want to leave that hatred here today.”
Prayer changes things. It changes the hearts of Muslims even as it changes our own hearts. Let me tell you how I became acutely aware of the impact that prayer has in drawing Muslims to faith. In 2014, I published a book called A Wind in the House of Islam. It was the culmination of a three-year journey that took me 250,000 miles throughout the Muslim world where I was able to gather more than a thousand interviews from Muslims who had come to faith in Jesus Christ and were each a part of a work of God within their community that had seen at least 1,000 baptisms.
In my survey, I heard hundreds of stories of God’s miraculous life-changing intervention into the lives of these formerly devout Muslims that prompted them to not only say yes to Jesus, but to follow him in baptism, an act that could garner them capital punishment. The truth be told, not one of these individuals that I interviewed told me that it was because some Christian on the other side of the globe was praying for them that they turned to faith in Jesus.
However, during the writing of my book, I would often share with my friend, Paul Filidis, the publisher of the Muslim World Prayer Guide the stories I had heard from Imams, Mullahs, and common Muslim men and women who had found Jesus as their Lord and Savior. One day, Paul asked me a simple question, “David, when did these movements begin?”
I knew the answer because my research had included a historic retrospective to identify every time that history had recorded a movement of at least a thousand Muslim baptisms within a particular Islamic community. This historic review was not as difficult as it might seem. In fact, such movements were so rare that whenever they occurred, they made church history. Looking over my spreadsheets, I informed Paul that 84% of all the Muslim movements to Christ in history have occurred during our lifetime, in fact, during the past 30 years.
Paul’s eyes immediately filled with tears. “What’s the matter,” I asked. Paul sobbed, “It was 30 years ago, that we began the Muslim World Prayer Guide.” That’s why I know that prayer makes a difference. Prayer is changing the hearts of Muslims.
This is why I urge Christians to pray for Muslims, for their salvation, for their blessing in Jesus Christ. Sadly, many Muslim immigrants to America today see us, evangelical Christians, as their greatest opponents in America. I know that this opposition within the Christian community grows out of fear, and only perfect love can cast out that fear.
None of us can lay claim to the perfect love that casts out all fear (1 John 4:18), no one except for Christ himself. But when we pray, we acquire the heart of God, a heart that was willing to die for us, all of us (including Muslims).
This year, during the month of Ramadan, April 13 – May 12, a growing multitude of Christians all around the world will join together to pray for Muslims, that God will reveal to them his Son, Jesus Christ.
If you would like to join us in that prayer for Muslims, you need to be prepared for God to change your heart from fear, hatred, or indifference, to love for a people for whom Christ gave his life.
See you at the altar.