During Ramadan

‘Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.’ Colossians 2:23

Paul was writing to Colossian church about a certain type of fasting. On occasion, you can see that his insight holds true here during Ramadan. Hunger, thirst, and nicotine withdrawal are three strong enemies against patience and gentleness. And so the sight of cab drivers arguing fiercely with each other in the midday sun and dust while a passer-by tries to calm the situation with feeble pleas of ‘Ramadan kareem, Ramadan kareem’ is not at all uncommon. 

Yet after sundown and the breaking of the fast, or iftar, the mood changes to one of celebration and universal benevolence. To the Christian, the contrast is strange and striking, a daily oscillation between Lent and Christmas, fasting and feasting. As brutal as this annual period of fasting can be during the days, it is joyfully welcomed and celebrated. It isn't just an occasion for feasting and sweets after sundown, but also an opportunity for spiritual reflection and improvement. It's a time in which Muslims may cleanse and purify their souls through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

So we must first give credit where it is undoubtedly due: if half the Christians in Britain showed half the concern for the purity of our souls and our acceptability to God as many of our Muslim neighbours, the Church would be in a significantly healthier position. The spiritual awareness, priorities, and openness in Ramadan is a refreshing change from the apathy and awkwardness of British culture. And it's a gift to the one who wants to commend Christ to his neighbours. 

Indeed, the problem is not their intentions, or even their methods, but the power source. The tragedy is not that Muslims fast – the Lord Jesus expects us to do so as well, and Church history is full of believers who would testify to the spiritual benefits of fasting. The tragedy is rather that fasting apart from the Spirit produces nothing. Without the Spirit uniting someone to Christ, who is seated above, one cannot put to death anything that belongs to their earthly nature. 

Please join me in praying – and fasting – for Muslims across the world in the final two weeks of Ramadan. Pray that the Lord would have pity upon them and lead them to Christ. Blessed are those, says Jesus, who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they will be satisfied. So let us pray that the Lord himself would satisfy them by giving them the purity of his righteousness and the power of his Spirit. 

Written by a Crosslinks short-term partner who is serving in a sensitive location.

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