Hurry Up and Wait: Day 27 of Ramadan

 

We’re in the home stretch now. The last day of fasting is Saturday, followed by Eid, a day of great celebration and feasting.

Many people have reminded me that the last ten days of Ramadan are considered the most sacred; Mohammed reportedly spent intense nights in prayer during this period. It is also the period during which Laylat al-Qadr, or The Night of Power, occurs. This is the night in which the Quran was given to Mohammed.

Muslims believe that this night is “better than a thousand months,” and that those who spend their time in acts of worship on this night earn special favor and reward with God. Some even go so far as to live inside the mosque for the entire ten day period, in a constant regimen of prayer and worship – this is called “i`tikaf.” In several of the mosques I visited, I saw rooms full of sleeping bags, pillows and backpacks for those who had moved in to observe i’tikaf.

I am impressed by the overriding sense of building anticipation, of hope, during these last ten days. It reminds me of the two great seasons of the Christian faith – Advent and Lent. Advent is a time of looking forward to the birth of Jesus, while Lent is a season of fasting in anticipation of Christ’s death and resurrection. During both seasons, we are encouraged to patiently wait.

Patient waiting is another difficult virtue for Americans. We are used to getting whatever we want, whenever we want it. We are accustomed to placing an order, and getting it almost immediately.

I remember ordering things by mail as a child. I would place a check in an envelope and mail it. Usually, the company advised that it would take “four to six weeks” for delivery. Those were always long and excruciating weeks. Every day, I would come home from the school and go straight to the mailbox to see if I’d received my coveted prize. The day it arrived was always a day of celebration and exhilaration!

Now, I can order something online and have it at my house the next day. And Amazon is even experimenting with same-day service in certain American cities!

Though instant results are exciting, we lose the value of learning to wait. There is something character-building about desiring something, then taking the steps necessary to acquire it. The longer it takes to acquire something, the more we will likely value it.

This must certainly be true for our spiritual lives, as well. God rarely gives us precisely what we ask for, or what we need, at the exact moment in which we ask it. Instead, we receive it gradually, slowly, incrementally.

The Psalmist understood this. He wrote in Psalm 27, “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!, and in Psalm 62, “For God alone my soul waits in silence.”

This is also an attitude of submission, because as we wait, we acknowledge that we do not expect God to act on our time schedule. God is free to act as God wills. God is not a waiter who takes our order, then rushes around to get it filled and served to us as quickly as possible.

True prayer is always ultimately an act of patient waiting. We acknowledge who God is, make plain our need, and then leave the rest to God.

In these final days of Ramadan, I plan to embrace the act of waiting quietly.

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7 comments

  1. Eva

    One of my favorite things to do in Ramadan, and especially in the last 10 nights, is to wake up in the last third of the night to read Quran and pray. I am a very busy mother of 7 young children. There are always activities, noise and a million of things I need to do. When my alarm goes off at 4:oo AM’ish and I am sacrificing my precious sleep to wake up and worship my Lord, it is truly a humbling experience. I am awake when my family, my neighbors and mostly everyone is sleeping reading and pondering over the words of the Quran in the Peace of the night. I stand up to pray and do not have the thoughts of laundry, or the sound of the phone ringing to disturb me. When I go into the sajood position (prostrating with my face on the floor) I feel like it is just me alone with my complete body and mind focused on my worship. I can spend an hour or so of time before I wake up my family for the morning meal and nobody except Allah and I know of this special time I spent to get closer to Him.

  2. ♥ natnat ♥

    Maher Zain said this and I never thought of it this way, but he says: If Ramadan is a race in doing good, then we are in the last part of the race. This is the time to speed up, not slow down & give up. In my country where Eid is a big huge celebration, its easy to lose focus on fasting and starts to prepare festive goodies, foods, new clothes especially towards the last 10 days of Ramadan. Thought provoking indeed~!

  3. zarah

    @Eva…. my dear sister, thank you for sharing. It is very inspiring and motivational 🙂 especially, to us mommies struggling to make the best out of these last precious days.

  4. Sharmina

    Patience is definitely something difficult to teach our kids these days. It’s sometimes hard for us as adults. The only thing that keeps me going is knowing that if Allah doesn’t give me what I ask for now, He will give me something even better in the hereafter. I just need to be patient 🙂

  5. Nadine

    Alhamdulillah, I’ve come across your Ramadan experience today and I must say it was quite a heart-warming read. I’m actually a revert to Islam of about four years now. Do enjoy these final days insha’Allah, for imaan is the sweetest during this blessed month and it seems like you’ve certainly had a taste of it.

  6. Ansar

    Wes you picked up on a virtue which comes with great difficulty. As you correctly stated that the Creator is in-charge, He is the All-Knower and He posesses the wisdom which no one does.
    Speaking of patience, chapter 103 of the Quran, one of three shortest chapters, which according to scholars of Islam would have sufficed to be revealed to mankind withuot the revelation of all the 114 chapters, it is so deep in meaning. Lengthy explanations can be found on this chapter, it talks about patience. Perhaps Larry or someone can show you.
    Just the opening statement is profound, in Arabic it contains three different words stressing that man is in loss, then it continues to give the formula for one not to be in loss – one virtue mentioned is patience.
    Regards

  7. Stephanie Upton

    Wes, A friend from your church Colleen Cormier, turned me on to this blog! I commend you on being willing to delve into a culture and a faith that is not your own, and learn and grow from it! I love your posts and they make me think and get outside of my box. I am a Christian and attend Still Water Community Church right down the street from your own. This time of prayer and fasting is so important in any faith and in any church. Our church is going through some tricky times and this is a perfect reminder to “be still and know that I am God” and that HE has this, and HE will make a way where there seems to be no way! My personal scipture is 2 Samuel 22 “The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer.” Your blog has reminded me to slow down, pray, and KNOW that HE has this……I do not have to worry! I also know that Jesus did not follow the pack! In his day his thoughts, beliefs and his actions were WILD and out there! He was CRAZY to so many that wanted to conform to the ways, and the teachings of their time. God bless you Wes for being a maverick and for making us think, and read, and stretch and GROW! Jesus expects us to get out there, in the middle of this world we live in and SHINE for HIM! Thank you for being a shiny glowing example to us in the sometimes very dark world! God bless you! Stephanie Upton

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