I always seem to sit down to write these posts right before the call to prayer begins. Which, in this case, fits perfectly.
In one of my recent posts, I mentioned that while I myself avidly cling to the Christian faith, I find profound beauty in these calls I hear every day here in Tanzania. It’s a stark contrast from the deeply individualized, “culturally relevant” religion we seem to try and keep up back home.
It has been my experience that in America, (1) we are only in things for our benefit, even if our benefit is the benefit of feeling good for helping other people, and (2) we are a culture that is supremely focused on the individual human being.
Yes, I realize that I am not revealing any surprising hidden truths here, keep tracking with me. Before I continue, I would like to warn the reader that what I originally planned to be a simple post on the call to prayer is now a more multifaceted on both that and my experience at an Anglican church this morning, so I am instead doing a two-part post.
Every time I hear the overlapping calls to prayer from the four or five mosques surrounding us, I stop in my tracks to listen, moved. Music has always been powerful for me, and even when I was a little girl I was known to be moved to tears by the sheer beauty of a song. But this is more than that; as I said in the other post, it is a call to remember your God, remember your Creator. Speak to Him. Thank Him. Stop what you’re doing in your life, because when it comes down to it, this is more important. It paints such a contrasting picture to Christianity in America, (beyond the obvious vast differences between Islam and Christianity themselves), where most people attend church once a week at most, where we might pray in the morning or at night or at meals (which is often just a hurried “Thank-You for this food”). Yes, it is a beautiful thing that we can pray to our God at any point of the day, whether we’re driving to work or sitting at a table with dinner in front of us. But we neglect the importance of putting aside all else on a regular basis to really pray- to put ourselves in a position of vulnerability and not just pray for safety or give thanks, but to adore and worship our creator and listen for His voice. We forget that God is not to be in the background, but that we are instructed in 1 Thessalonians to “pray continually”.
Maybe this is relevant to you, and maybe you are sitting there wondering why you just read that. Maybe I’m ranting because I stayed out late last night and got up early for church in the morning, but maybe I rambled a little because I am convicted. Because while I pray regularly, so often these prayers are quick murmurs of thanks or selfish pleas for my problems to go away. Because though everything I hold on to is built on my convictions of Christ and His teaching, though I have been overwhelmed with grace I so don’t deserve by the One True God, though I am female which would disqualify me from even any legitimate hope if I was Muslim, and though I have the privilege of being able to pray to God through His Spirit and have Him actually hear my prayers, I have not the strength to praise Him near enough, but so often I do not even try. And maybe I’m alone in this. But I’d be willing to bet I’m not.
As always, if you want to talk or question or comment, feel free to contact me. Part two-ish of this post to come soon, for those who care to read not just of cool cultural experiences, but my personal experience. Mtakuwa na leo nzuri 🙂