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Monday, January 5, 2015

God Pitched His Tent Among Men: The Manner of Christian Prayer versus Muslim Prayer

by Lawrence Fox

“What manner of prayer did Jesus teach his disciples?” a Muslim asked me on Facebook.
I thought about the question from the perspective of John the Baptist who evidently taught his disciples how to pray. This is certain since Jesus’ disciples approached Him and asked, “Teach us how to pray as John taught his disciples.” (Luke 11:1) Then I asked, “What is this Muslim focusing on in relation to prayer? Was it a question about method and form, content, location, duration, quantity or quality that was important?” The question did not seem to suggest a tender relationship between Allah and men. 
After reading the chapter “teachings on prayer” in Jesus and Mohammad; Profound Differences and Surprising Similarities by Mark Gabriel PhD, I began to understand why it was so important for the Muslim to have an answer to his question.

Muslims are commanded to pray to Allah fives times a day (raka'ah). Islamic legend states that Mohammed was taken up to Allah in a dream and Allah instructed Mohammed to command the believers to pray 50 times a day.

Manner in which Muslims pray
In the Islamic legend, Mohammed ascended through the seven heavens and along the way saw at various discrete levels apart from Allah, the person of Jesus, Moses, and other “Muslim” prophets. On his journey down from where Allah dwelt, Moses requested from Mohammed, “What did Allah ask?” Mohammed replied, “Allah instructed me to command 'believers' to pray 50 times a day.”

Moses told Mohammed that he (Moses) led his people out of Egypt towards the Promised Land and knew “believers would not pray 50 times a day.” So Mohammed went back to Allah to ask for a lesser duty. Mohammed -- with the advice of Moses -- managed to whittle the prayer requirement down to the number five.

The legendary bargaining between Mohammed and Allah over quantity of prayer inversely parallels the exchange between Abraham and the Lord (represented by three angels) who was about to execute judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 16: 1-33). Mohammed was trying to water down the requirements for the believer. Abraham was trying to save the cities scheduled for destruction. 

Abraham begins the exchange with the Lord by asking, “Will you sweep away the innocent with the guilty? Suppose there were fifty innocent people in the city; would you wipe out the place rather than spare it for the sake of the fifty innocent people within it?”  This exchange went back and forth until the Lord states, “For the sake of those ten, I will not destroy it.” In such manner did Abraham plead for God's mercy for the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Ironically, Abraham was not successful as God could not find 10 innocent men.

Allah commanded “the five” and sent the angel Gabriel to teach Mohammed the manner of prayer. Mohammed then explained to his followers that this prayer (recited five times a day) was a duty from Allah.

Mohammed led his followers in prayer five times a day to demonstrate the sincerity of the message. Mohammed taught his followers when to say the prayer during the course of the day, the manner of washings, the location, the content and when an exception was permitted based upon circumstances, including while at the mosque, away from the mosque, and while performing jihad. (Surah 4:34; 4:101-103, and 5:6) Mohammed’s instructions on prayer are integral to the life of the “believer” since “the five” prayer times manifest obedience to Allah.

Christians expect God to hear their prayers
But the Islamic approach is wooden and non-relational compared to the approach of the Christian,  who comes to understand that God dwells intimately with His people. The Muslim doesn’t know if Allah hears his prayer or not.

Jesus teaches his disciples that God already knows what’s in their heart and will listen to them. He says, “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men, I tell you the truth, they received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like the pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (Matthew 6: 5:8)

Jesus then taught his disciples to pray to God as a Father, not as a taskmaster as Allah demands: "Our Father in heaven, holy is your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give to us this day our daily bread and forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil one.” (Matthew 6:9) 

Painting of the Sacred Heart of God
the Father. To learn more about
this devotion, go to Moving Heart Foundation
The word that Jesus uses for “Father” is “Abba” which literally means “Daddy” in Hebrew. Jesus told his disciples that God was their Father by creation, grace, and providence. The gift that we receive from God the Father is God Himself in the Holy Spirit, “What father among you, if his son asks for bread, would give him a stone, or if he asks for a fish, would give him a snake instead of the fish? You being evil know how to give good things to your children, how much more you’re Father in heaven will give to you the Holy Spirit.” (Luke 11:11)

The Holy Spirit that Jesus spoke about is the same Spirit that overshadowed the waters of creation in the book of Genesis 1:2 and which rested upon Jesus (like a dove) at His Baptism in the River Jordan by John the Baptist (Mark 1:10).

This same Holy Spirit -- while indwelling within the heart of the disciples -- encourages and enables the disciple to speak to God as “Abba Father.” St. Paul writes: “But if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that make you a slave again to fear; but you received the Spirit of Sonship. And by him we cry, Abba Father. The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children, heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in the sufferings in order that we may also share in his Glory.” (Romans 8:13-17)

The Holy Spirit which comes from God Our Father is identified as the breath of God, which is an image of intimacy. God breathed into the nostrils of Adam (shaped from clay). God the Holy Spirit animates our being (body and soul). Jesus tells his disciples, "Trust in God as a child trusts in his own Daddy and He will give you an increase of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit."

The Holy Spirit present at the creation of the world, “moving over the waters,” is the same Holy Spirit which participates along with the Father and the Son in  the re-creation (sanctification) of the human person.

Mohammed instructed his followers to wash before prayer but he could not give to his followers the gift of God’s Holy Spirit.

Mohammed’s washing simply dealt with the removal of dirt from the body. In contrast, the washing of the Holy Spirit --  while moving over the waters of Baptism – saves “the initiate” like the waters of Noah’s Ark saved Noah and his family:  “In it only a few people, eight in all were saved through water and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also – not the removal of dirt from the body but in a pledge response of a good conscience towards God. It (baptism) saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone in the heaven and is at God’s right hand – with the angels, authorities and power in submission to Him.” (1 Peter 3:19-22)

The Holy Spirit rested upon Moses and Mount Sinai with the giving of the Law and its ratification. He rested upon the Ark of the Covenant once it was constructed and dedicated. (Exodus 40:34) It is the same Holy Spirit which rested on the Temple dedicated by Solomon. While dedicating the Temple, King Solomon asked the assembled people, "Will God indeed dwell with men upon the earth? If the heaven and heavens of heavens will not suffice thee, what then is this house that I have built?" (II Chronicles 6:18). 

Solomon's Temple
In each instance throughout the Old and New Testament, the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit by cloud, fire, and breath (wind) manifested the dwelling of God among humanity. The pattern continues in the most marvelous way within the New Testament.

The Angel Gabriel said to Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the Holy One to be born of you will be called, the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35) In case the point is missed, Matthew writes about the Mary’s conception of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit, “And all this took place to fulfill what the Lord has said through the prophet, ‘The Virgin shall be with child and will give birth to a son, and they call him Emmanuel - which means God with us.’” (Matthew 1:22-23) Yes, through the power of the Holy Spirit and Mary’ yes, God pitched His tent among humanity in the Person of Jesus of Nazareth, Son of God and Son of Mary.

John the Baptist told members of the Sanhedrin that he baptized with water, but the One to follow him would baptize with the Holy Spirit. Jesus reiterated the words of John the Baptist to his disciples, “For John baptized with water but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1: 5) And so it was on Pentecost when 120 of them were gathered in the upper room. The Holy Spirit descended upon them with the rushing of a mighty wind from heaven. Tongues of living fire rested upon each of them and they began to proclaim the Good News to the multitude of pilgrims in Jerusalem, something which never happened in Islamic history.

When the people heard the message they said to Peter and the other apostles, “What shall we do?” And Peter responded, “Repent  and be baptized, every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of you sins. And you will receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord will call.” (Acts 2: 38)

Through Word and Water (Baptism), the Gift of the Holy Spirit is given to men, women, and children. God speaking through the Prophet Ezekiel stated: “I shall pour clean water over you and you will be cleansed. I shall cleanse you of all your defilement and all your idols. I shall give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I shall remove the heart of stone from your bodies and give you a new heart of flesh instead. I shall put my spirit in you and make you keep my laws and sincerely respect my observances.” (Ezekiel 36:25-27)

God promised that He would put His Spirit within the hearts of men. This promise is fulfilled through the Person of Jesus of Nazareth since In Him the fullness of the Godhead dwelt in bodily form.” (Colossians 2:9) Christians receive a divine Person in faith and in prayer. Muslims do not.

Mohammed gave to his followers, five prayers which he learned from an angel. Jesus of Nazareth gave to his followers a relationship with God as “Father.” And from this Father they receive in prayer an increase of the Holy Spirit enabling them to cry out with greater courage “Abba” Father in Spirit and in Truth.

Did you enjoy this piece? Lawrence has written others on Islam, including GLORY OF ISLAM: Putting the Beheadings, Crucifixions, and Rape into the context of the Quran
and a poem on beheaded American journalist James Foley  Lament for Western Humanity
and THE MIND OF ISLAM: On Family Life, the Messiah and How to Treat Non-Muslims


  1. Great post! This is my first time reading your blog. God be with you.

  2. Thank you! We are imperfect saints too. LOL God bless you and yours. Susan Fox

  3. Yes! Interesting explanation for the fact that true Christianity is a RELATIONSHIP, not religion.

  4. Susan & Lawrence All stated was really very good of our faith.I must say there is much more to say regarding the seriousness of the Muslims Iran is the Center. BHO gave iran material to blowvup world. They hate Jews & Catholics. The $ given 2X is same as (9) 9-11's. There is much more yes they pray but you must know what they pray. We do not have the same God. Their god tells find & kill yes the word is kill. Same thing on their holiday, pray if they kill infidels. I read the Quran also history of Muhammad who was orphand at 8 then cared for by 2 other relatives Both Catholics a woman, also a relative Monk who translated the Old & New Testament into Arabic. Nothing in order in their book. Yes they have Mary. She is not mother of Jesus. I could keep going nothing is good Jesus to them is profit. A muslim must believe in him Yes he is to re turn, but he is as told to us by our Holy Bible Anti Christ. Muhammad had people write what he said. Muslim which should not be called religion. It is only hypocrisy & wars. Against their book to drink they have more rehabs than I can count. Iran is sending isis into all countries BHO & Hillary opened All boarders made it easy and we don't see, they blend in. They are getting in possition As I said this is biggest scam in USA history. No Cit. & A Musslim.I keep saying so much more & there is! I think I mentioned a book."Complete Infidel's Guide to Iran" written by man who was Prime Minister to UK. He coverted to Catholicism Ivorysnow3567 So much to say. The woman go around all covered up then they come to a Place take all off and sex clothes & drink -- their book teaches lie. Well I just can do no more now, but their is much more We must Pray Pray a lot for Father He will help us We can't win without His Help. Ivorysnow3567