Saturday, February 06, 2010

Prayer and fasting

Tools to prepare oneself to sacrifice

I received a sms from a friend urging us to continue praying for the Appeals Court to uphold the verdict of the High Court to allow Herald to use the world “Allah” in its publication. In the message he says that the best approach to the “Allah” issue is the way of Jesus – pray and fast.

Yes we are all praying that the verdict will be in our favor. Who does not want to win anyway? Here we should pause and ponder on what Jesus himself did when he was brought to be tried for blasphemy. Did Jesus pray and fast to win his case? He did pray and fast not for winning his case but to prepare himself for the ultimate sacrifice for us, the death on the cross. He knew he is going to be humiliated, tortured and crucified and he needed all the strength and courage to accept that unjust verdict without a fight. He knew he had to go through the harshest punishment without anger or hatred but only forgiveness and love for his “enemies”.

Today we are faced with a similar predicament in the dispute over the word “Allah”. We are asked to give up the word, not our lives unlike in the case of Jesus, for the comfort of our neighbor but we are unwilling for many reasons. Now we are asked to pray and fast to gain victory but will prayer and fasting per se bring us the victory we all long for?

Prayer and fasting to obtain what we want, to my mind, does not seem logical and sound. It would be acts of selfishness if we do that for such purposes. Instead praying and fasting should be means to prepare ourselves mentally and physically to sacrifice something that we treasure for the sake our love for our neighbor, who could even be our enemy.

Following Christ is not keeping our gains to ourselves but to give up some of our victories to our neighbor in move to allay his fears and anxieties. Being Christ-like is to adopt the humane values of peaceful coexistence with our neighbors and even our enemies.

Our Muslim neighbors, especially those from PAS have acknowledged our right to use “Allah”. All they ask for is time for many among them to fully understand that our demands are not sinister.Will it be too much for us to give in to their requests for lasting peace and harmony?

Our nation is going through some really difficult times and we must do everything possible to ensure peace and harmony is maintained at all costs. Let us pray and fast if necessary that God will give us the wisdom, strength and courage to sacrifice something we treasure badly, the word Allah in this case, as a gesture of love to our neighbor which is what this year’s Lent in particular and Christianity in general is all about.

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