Posts Tagged salvation

PrayerWalk London: The London Central Mosque

9 April 2011

The last excerpt of PrayerWalk London took us from Park Crescent, south of the Regent’s Park, through Harley Street to St. Marylebone Parish Church. This part of the route takes us clockwise around the park to London’s Central Mosque.

London Central Mosque

Visitor information. The Islamic Cultural Centre & The London Central Mosque. 146 Park Road, London, NW8 7RG. Tel. 0207 725 2213; 0207 725 2152. Email: info@iccuk.org. Website: www.iccuk.org. Guided tours by appointment only.

London Mosque from Regent's Park

The idea of building a mosque in London was originally put forth by Lord Headley, an English convert to Islam. After several decades of advocacy, a prime building site on the edge of Regent’s Park was presented to the Muslim community by the British Government as an “unconditional gift.” Construction of the mosque began in 1974 and was completed in 1977.  

The main hall can hold 5,000 men, with women praying separately on a balcony overlooking the hall. The mosque includes six important features: 

  1. The mirhab, a special room where the imam (spiritual leader) stands to lead the congregation in prayer. It also helps indicate the direction of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
  2. The minbar, or pulpit, where the imam stands to deliver sermons on Fridays, the Muslim holy day. Every Muslim man is required to attend jumu’ah (congregational) prayer on Fridays.
  3. The minaret, perhaps the most visible part of the mosque as it reaches to the sky and can be seen from miles around. A muezzin stands in the minaret to deliver the call to prayer.
  4.  The dome, a common architectural feature of mosques. The London dome is crowned with a crescent. The dome serves the practical purpose of helping with the acoustics and air circulation within the main prayer hall.
  5. The facilities for wudu, or ritual washing, which are crucial in a mosque as they provide a place to wash and purify parts of the body before prayer. The washing areas are separate for men and women. 
  6. The library, an integral part of a mosque, because the Prophet Muhammad taught his followers that seeking knowledge was obligatory to their faith. 

Point to Ponder: Pray continually 

Muslims pray five obligatory prayers per day, and are encouraged to do so in congregation with other Muslims. This encourages a discipline and builds a sense of fraternity and community among those who pray, and an opportunity for them to exchange thoughts and help each other with problems. Can you imagine the wonderful things that could happen if Christians prayed fervently five times a day, every day? Consider putting this theory into practice and setting an alarm on your phone or other device to go off at five preset times during the day as a reminder to drop everything and focus on what’s most important: God and prayer.

If Time Permits: Prayer Hall

A visit to the mosque, while perhaps controversial for some Christians, can be an excellent way of gaining insight into the Islamic faith and of praying for Muslims “on location.” Check in at the security gate at the Park Road entrance. Out of cultural respect, women should consider covering their heads with a scarf before entering. If positions were reversed and a Muslim were visiting a Christian church, wouldn’t we be grateful for his consideration in not removing his shoes?

Prayer Points

  • Pray against any religion and any creed that hinders or prevents knowledge, sets itself against the knowledge of Christ and that does not acknowledge Christ for who He is – The one and only Savior of the world, the Way, the Truth, the Life.
  • Pray that God might continue revealing His Son to Muslims through dreams and visions of Jesus Christ, as is happening throughout the Middle East.
  • Pray that Christians might lead lives so blameless through the help of God that their Muslim neighbors have nothing to hold against them.
  • Pray that true friendships might be forged between Muslims and Christians and that without ignoring our fundamental differences we might realize and respect what we have in common: sincerity in our search for God and for the Truth, zeal in our worship and proselytizing, and a deep faith and conviction that God is real and governs the lives of men.
  • Pray that God might move on the heart of Christians and grow both their desire to pray and their discipline to make prayer a priority.

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).

A Matter of Perspective

26 October 2010

Those who have experienced depression will tell you it’s like a light switch has been turned off in their soul. “Just get over it” is not an option. Thinking positive thoughts simply doesn’t cut it.

I’ve often wondered if Jesus is talking about depression when he makes reference to “how great is that darkness” in the passage below:

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” Matt. 6:22-23 (NIV)

Like so many passages in the Bible, this one can be taken literally and figuratively. If your eyes are bad (i.e. if you are blind) then all you can see is darkness; if your eyesight is good, you can see bright sun, blue sky, leafy trees – your whole perspective changes.

I think of the recently rescued Chilean miners. They were in darkness for 69 long, hot, scary days. When they were finally lifted to the light, they had to put on sunglasses even indoors to shield their sensitive eyes, especially from the bright lights of the TV cameras wanting to capture their every move.

How bright the world seems to those who have been in darkness! How full of joy and optimism the miners’ hearts were as they were literally rescued and brought from darkness to light!

“I buried 40 years of my life down there,” said Mario Sepulveda, one of the miners. “I think I have learned a lot of wonderful lessons about taking the good path in life.”

The same is true when God rescues us from the figurative darkness of ignorance and sin. Our hearts are overjoyed when we first begin to grasp the light of salvation and the hope, peace, and joy that come as part of the “complete package.”

But sometimes even as Christians our perspective slips. Our eyes grow dark again; we go through times of depression and sadness that nothing seems to help. Where is the One who will rescue us? How great is that darkness.

Even King David, a man after God’s own heart, cried out: “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? Look on me and answer, O Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death.” Psalm 13:1,3 (emphasis mine)

But God does not leave us in the miry pit.

Whether you fall into a literal pit or a figurative one, God is there to lift you out. Hold on! Don’t lose hope! The Rescuer is on His way.

After the Rain

2 October 2010

It rained, and rained, and rained. Last night on the evening news the weatherman said we got between 9 and 16 inches over the last three days. I like rain in reasonable quantities, but this was the miserable, depressing kind that seems like it will never pass. You feel claustrophobic, like there’s a low grey ceiling overhead keeping you hemmed in. You forget what blue sky looks like.

And then this morning we woke up to this:

Lake View

I stood on the back porch, coffee cup in hand, and let the warmth of the sun melt the stress of my work week away. 

One of my favorite scripture verses is Psalm 13:5-6:

But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me.

One of the great things about the word “but” in this verse is that you can put anything in front of it, and it’s still true. “My dog died … but I trust in your unfailing love,” “I have a terminal illness … but I trust in your unfailing love,” “I lost my job … but I trust in your unfailing love.”

Recently I saw an interview with J. K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books. Rowling was talking about how at one point in her life she was a struggling single mother, as poor as you can get in Britain without being homeless. But she didn’t regret that period of her life: rock bottom provided a solid foundation on which she built a new life.

The bedrock truth in Psalm 13:5-6 is salvation: I know that I am saved, and nothing that happens to me in this life, no measure of bad news or difficult circumstances, can take that away from me.

So I will sing to the Lord — for blue skies, for sun that is drying up the standing water in my car caused by a leaky sunroof, for a beautiful lake to look out upon. He has been good to me.