While visiting Istanbul, Turkey recently we were astounded at the number of mosques. Our guide told us there are 2,500 of them in the city! Five times each day the muezzins chant the call to prayer, reminding the devout to come to the mosque or kneel and pray at home or work. These vocal reminders to pray, broadcast from the mosques’ minarets, are not exactly musically appealing, but what they lack in melody they make up for in volume. At times it seems that the chanters from neighboring mosques vie for who can out-chant the other.
Visitors or worshippers come to the mosque with shoes off and bodies respectfully covered. The Muslim worshippers wash hands, feet and face before entering. Women worship, study and pray separate from the men, usually behind a screen or in a separate room. Men arrive at the mosque and find a place on the carpet which is beautifully patterned to create spaces for each praying person. With faces to the carpet, the devout pray toward Mecca five times a day.
What or whom calls you to prayer? You may struggle, as I do, to set aside time to pray. Our brief encounters with the Almighty before we eat or as we run out the door in the morning are sad attempts at connection with God. Maybe we need an outward reminder to pray throughout the day, like the muezzin in the minaret.
Reminding Ourselves to Connect
Christians through the ages have found various devices to help remind them to pray. Monastics used bells to call people to pray throughout the day and night. Although we don’t live in monasteries, we may benefit from putting structures in place, reminding ourselves to connect with God.
One person I know chose three days per week to pray every hour, on the hour throughout the day. She would get up from her desk, walk outside and talk to God for about five minutes before going back to work. At home she continued her hourly intercession until retiring for the night. One of the days her prayers were devoted to praying for her children, another day was devoted to praying for families in crisis and the third day was reserved for praying for her husband. The structure was self-imposed, but it worked to keep her focused on specific prayer needs in her life.
Like the widow in Jesus’ parable (Luke 18), we are called to persistence in prayer. Isaiah 62:6 also speaks to this: “I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the Lord, give yourselves no rest, and give him no rest until he establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth.”
Regularly approaching God in prayer connects us heart to heart with our heavenly Friend. As we find our call to prayer and begin to “pray without ceasing” we will fall more deeply in love with our Savior and see Him work in amazing ways.