One of the things we were warned about before moving to Jakarta, was the call to prayer. More specifically, the volume of it and the time of day you may hear it. Muslims pray five times a day.
- Salat al-fajr: dawn, before sunrise
- Salat al-zuhr: midday, after the sun passes its highest
- Salat al-‘asr: the late part of the afternoon
- Salat al-maghrib: just after sunset
- Salat al-‘isha: between sunset and midnight
So, it is likely that you will be woken sometime between 4:30 – 5am if you are near a mosque. Thankfully, I don’t usually notice the sound early in the morning anymore. The constant airconditioning is helpful to block out any sounds outside.
As I write, I’m sitting on my balcony listening to the cacophony of calls to prayer that are being projected through loudspeakers all around my apartment building. It is a sound that is as common as the birds singing or the sound of traffic. You notice it at first, but eventually, the sound is so natural. It’s usually not until they are well into the prayer that I realize it is being said.
Yet, I’ve come to appreciate these calls to prayer. Although I am not a Muslim and do not understand the language spoken, I find it is a good reminder to constantly be in prayer to the Lord and I try to use these times as a reminder to be in deliberate prayer wherever I may be.
There are some interesting facts about the call to prayer that I think are good reminders for any Christian as well.
- It sets a rhythm for the day. Rhythms are so good for our bodies and minds!
- Praying at the same time connects you to others who are praying at the same time around the world. We are not alone in our faith and our faith is not just a solitary thing, we are part of a community, a family of believers who can support each other physically and through prayer.
- Muslims make sure they are in the right frame of mind, putting aside every day cares to focus on God. How often do we forget that we are going before the throne of the God of the universe before we pray or let our minds wander while praying? I do and that’s ok, God understands, but I think he deserves my best, my full attention. Just like my kids don’t like it when they are trying to talk to me and I’m not giving them my full attention, God deserves all of us.
- Muslims believe they obtain great benefit from praying to Allah. God knows what we need before we even speak it, but he delights in our prayers and the time we spend with him draws us closer to him by aligning our thoughts with His.
- Muslims often pray at the mosque together with others. Christians are encouraged to meet together and to seek God in prayer together. It is a beautiful thing to speak to God with a group of believers. Matthew 18:20 says, “where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am with them.”
One last thing. I mentioned it is a cacophony of prayers. I am also reminded that our prayers and our songs are beautiful to God’s ears. Let’s not stop praising him and calling out to him with our hearts, but also our voices. He hears us and is not distant, God desires to meet with us.
I am thankful for the reminder to seek God out daily, throughout the day, to seek him out with my family and with my family of believers and to remember who’s presence I am in while I pray.