People who know me know I don't have a whole lot of conservative bones left in me, if any. This is particularly true theologically, sociologically, and politically. While I believe that all people are susceptible to the possibility they might become mass murderers some day in the right circumstances, I also believe there is a goodness in every person waiting to be drawn out and grown through the love and faith and presence of another one and another One. I think it will help you to know "up front" of my progressive or liberal tendencies so you won't be surprised about what I am going to say. (For those of you who are very liberal it won't even be a surprise.)
For the first time in my life a Muslim offered to pray for me and my wife. I didn't ask for the prayers; and I didn't expect the offer. Why didn't I expect the offer? I'm not sure. Perhaps it was the tension that exists between Muslims and Christians and Jews in the area of the world where our military is currently fighting. Perhaps it is my lack of ever having a close, personal relationship with a person of Muslim faith. For whatever reason, though I was surprised by this offer.
Since he said this as I was leaving work, I immediately began to think about the quesions that rise (at least some of them) from this offer:
1. Does God answer the prayers of Muslims?
2. Do Muslims pray in the same way Christians or Jews pray?
3. Do Muslims share faith in the same God as the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jesus?
4. Would most Christians consider my friend, Mohammed (from work) to be a man of "true faith"?
5. Why do I even question the prayers of anyone?
6. What do I do when one of my Buddhist coworkers offers prayer for some reason?
My short answer to all of these questions is this: I am glad Mohammed is going to pray for us. He appears to be a man who has studied the scriptures of Abraham and of Jesus and of Mohammed the prophet. It doesn't matter to me whether he prays the same way I pray or not. The monotheistic faith of Muslims means they MUST believe in ONE God. (The Hebrew scriptures say it this way: "The Lord our God, the Lord is One."
I believe many, if not most Christians would believe Mohammed was a man of "true faith" if they got to know him as a person. His faith is as visible as his dark eyes and ruddy skin. He knows a great deal about the Christian and Hebrew faiths; and he can compare them to you without putting down your faith or building his above yours.
Questioning the prayers of another is like questioning the money someone is offering you. Even if you don't believe it is real, accept it and find out! A gift IS a gift, after all.
The final question is answered in a way you already can figure out. If a Buddhist coworker offers prayer, I will glady accept it. Not only that, I may become proactive about asking those of other faiths to be in prayer for us as I also offer prayers for them in their daily relationships with God and with one another. I pray that the Lord of Love, Jesus Christ in my tradition, will be ever more visible to them and in them.
So thanks, Mohammed, for making this offer. May God bless you as you are in prayer and work and in all of your family life.