/ Tuesday, February 28, 2023
*This article was originally published in March 2021, and has been updated to include the most up-to-date information, links and resources for 2023.
The juxtaposition this year of the Christian celebration of Easter (April 9, 2023), and the Muslim celebration of Ramadan (March 22 - April 20, 2023) offers some interesting reflection on the nature of each of these two religious observances.
It’s a study in whether God’s forgiveness is given or earned.
Easter & Ramadan
Easter, coming at the end of Holy Week (April 2-8, 2023) is a time for Christians to remember the tremendous sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ in his suffering and death, and to celebrate his tremendous victory in rising from the dead. His sacrifice and victory have defeated sin, death and Satan, and we who are his disciples, rest in his finished work, even as we join him in his mission to make his redemptive work known to all.
We are confident of our access to and right relationship with God because Jesus Christ is our mediator, and his sacrifice has dealt with our sins. We have been given right standing with God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Ramadan, marked by 30 days of fasting and prayer (March 22 - April 20, 2023), is a season when Muslims diligently strive to fulfill the duties that form the basis of their religious practice.
During Ramadan, observant Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, abstaining from food, drink, smoking, sexual activity, as well as gossip, fighting, lying, etc. It’s a rigorous commitment to sacrifice, renunciation, reflection and spiritual growth. Ramadan is often a season of recommitment to God and the Muslim community.
A diligent observance of Ramadan is offered in hopes that God’s pardon might be earned for the sins they have committed.
Christian forgiveness rests in Jesus’ finished work; our efforts to love God and love neighbour arise from a heart of gratitude and commitment to his good Kingdom reign.
Muslims seek to earn forgiveness through good deeds and religious observances. However, there is no confidence that even diligent efforts will achieve the desired outcome of God’s forgiveness for sins.
The contrast is clear.
An Invitation to Prayer
If you are reading this and are a follower of Jesus Christ, then you, like me, have received the grace and mercy of God. We stand together on level ground at the foot of the cross, with thankful hearts full of joy for the freedom we have been given.
My prayer is that our hearts together are moved with compassion towards those who are not yet free—those whom Christ died for, but who do not yet know him. Those who are zealous to please God but have no confidence that their efforts will be accepted; no confidence in salvation; no rest in forgiveness; no experience of mercy and grace.
As Muslims enter a season of prayer and fasting during Ramadan, let’s also enter a season of prayer and fasting. For 30 years, around the world, Christians have set aside these 30 days of Ramadan to pray specifically for Muslims. I invite you to set aside this month as a season of prayer.
Prayer Resources for Ramadan
There are a variety of resources to support you in your prayers.
- Loving Muslims Together has put together the 30 Days of Prayer for Muslims in Canada, a daily prayer booklet with a short introduction and prayer point that focuses on the real needs of your Muslim neighbours in Canada.
- 30 Days of Prayer for the Muslims World - Join the international movement of prayer that began in 1993. Adult and kids guides are available.
- Prayercast - Love Muslims Videos is where you can subscribe to receive prayer videos focused on the Muslims world. There’s an amazing library of videos from previous years, so spend some time watching and praying.
- Loving Muslims Together Events - is where you will find information about Night of Power prayer meetings held online across Canada towards the end of Ramadan. Join one and pray with others for light to shine in the darkness.
- Pray for a Mosque Community - When Ramadan comes to an end, your prayers don’t have to. One of the opportunities that is available year-round is to pray for the mosque community nearest you. Wouldn’t it be amazing if God raised up people and churches to pray for every mosque in Canada? If you want to know more about this initiative check out Pray for a Mosque Community or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As Muslims make a concerted effort to pray, seeking God’s favor, let’s also, empowered by the Holy Spirit, make an equally concerted effort this month to labor in prayer, with tears and cries of petition, so that they too could stand on level ground with us at the foot of the cross and worship Jesus Christ, the Lamb who was slain.
Lorna Johnston is the Diaspora Ministries Leader at Outreach Canada. She leads two national teams--Loving Muslims Together (LMT) and Simply Mobilizing Canada (SMC). She works with teams of diverse and experienced leaders and ministries across Canada to alert and activate the church in Canada to the changing opportunities to engage God's mission right here in Canada.