By Rev. and CBF Field Personnel Karen
In 2021, I moved into a new apartment across town. I love it for so many reasons: The rooftop access shows off spectacular sunsets; I have many windows and plenty of fresh air; and I’ve been able to decorate the entire place according to my whim and fancy. I knew before I moved in that there was a mosque on the nearby street corner. I didn’t quite realize how loud the calls to prayer would be over the loudspeaker! Several times a day, I hear a voice start to intone the ancient formula that calls Muslims from around the world to pray. “Allahu akhbar… God is greater…”
The call to prayer reverberates so loudly in my house that often people I’m speaking to can hear it over the phone. It interrupts my Zoom meetings and sometimes I have to pause in the middle of a conversation to wait the 30 seconds or so before the quiet of the neighborhood returns. The call to prayer accompanies me before I wake up in the morning and after darkness falls at night.
When I first moved to Northern Africa, I was enchanted and delighted to hear the calls to prayer over loudspeakers in every part of the country. I used to challenge myself to pray at the same time that I heard the reminder—an auditory cue to call me back into relationship with the One who is greater than my busy schedule. But, these days, the call to prayer has become just a routine background noise as I learn to absentmindedly continue on with my daily priorities.
I’m challenged by my Muslim neighbors who take their responsibility to pray seriously and earnestly. I thought that praying five times a day would be an easy habit for me. After all, aren’t we as Christians called to pray without ceasing? In reality, though, I’m finding that even setting aside five times a day to pray requires discipline and practice. Committing myself to a life of prayer requires more than just assuming that God is with me and listening in on my day-to-day business. A life of prayer does require us to stop, breathe and return to our Creator, our Source of being, our Sustainer. And it’s helpful to have such a reminder blasted into your home every day!
Pray, Practice, Ponder: Praying the Hours Fixed-hour prayer is one of the oldest Christian traditions. In Psalm 119, we hear the Psalmist reference this when he speaks of praying seven times a day in order to uphold God’s law. For the day, or the week, try a pattern of fixed hour prayer. You can set an alarm on your phone or watch for every few hours, or follow along with the Daily Office App, which uses the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer to guide you in four prayers each day (Morning Prayer, Noonday, Evening Prayer and Compline).
Karen is a Cooperative Baptist Fellowship field personnel serving in North Africa since 2018. She ministers in a local Protestant Church as they serve the needs of their vulnerable migrant and refugee neighbors.
This prayer appears in the 2022-2023 edition of Prayers of the People, the annual prayer guide of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, edited by Rev. Meg Lacy Vega. Download the digital version or order free print copies of Prayers of the People at www.cbf.net/pray.