Some 2 million people from around the world are converging on Mecca, Saudi Arabia this week, for the hajj, the Islamic religious pilgrimage.
The hajj, which is Arabic for "pilgrimage"- is one of the five pillars of Islam that every Muslim must perform in order to live a good life according to the religion.
The four other pillars include: praying five times a day, fasting during Ramadan, giving to the poor, and professing faith in the prophet Mohammed.
The hajj takes place annually on the 12th month of the Islamic lunar calendar and must be completed by all Muslims at least once in a life.
Over the next few days, as Muslims strive to have their sins forgiven through the pilgrimage, Christian organizations that focus attention on the Muslim world are encouraging people to pray for Muslims to have an encounter with the living Christ of Christianity.
"God can use this time of spiritual focus to give Muslims a hunger for the gospel," says Christar, a Texas-based ministry.
Christar has the following recommendations for praying more effectively for Muslims during the hajj pilgrimage:
Day One (August 30, 2017)
Participants wash and put on plain white garments that represent the equality of all pilgrims. They travel to the tent city of Mina, where they spend the night..
.Pray that the spiritual focus of this time will cause many Muslims to think about what they believe. Ask God to bring believers into the lives of those who take part in the Hajj this year.
Day Two (August 31, 2017)
The pilgrims continue to Arafat, where they stand or sit from noon to sunset, invoking Allah for mercy and seeking forgiveness for sins.
.Pray that Muslims will experience the true forgiveness that is available through Christ alone. At sunset, pilgrims leave for Muzdalifah, where they spend the night under the open sky.
As many pilgrims stay up all night to pray, ask God to reveal Himself to them.
Day Three (September 1, 2017)
Pilgrims take part in the "stoning of the devil," throwing seven stones at a wall representing Satan. Muslims believe that Abraham threw stones at the devil to resist the temptation to sacrifice his son Ishmael.
.Pray that Muslims will overcome the evil one through faith in Christ.
Men shave their heads or cut their hair, while women cut the ends of their hair, as a sign of humility and purity.
.Pray that many Muslims will understand that true purity is possible only through Christ.
Pilgrims slaughter an acceptable animal or pay to have an animal sacrificed in their name.
.Pray that many Muslims will understand that Jesus, the true Lamb, died as a substitutionary sacrifice for sin.
Pilgrims circle the Kaaba (a cube-shaped building at the center of the most sacred mosque in Mecca) seven times, and run or walk seven times through tunnels between the hills of Safa and Marwah.
.Pray that God would show many pilgrims that works and rituals cannot save them.
Day Four (September 2, 2017)
Pilgrims "stone the devil" again by throwing stones at each of three walls. This ritual also symbolizes the repudiation of a person's own "internal despot," or low desires and wishes.
.Pray that many Muslims will realize that they are unable to turn from sin on their own.
Day Five (September 3, 2017)
After a final stoning of the walls, pilgrims return to Mecca for a farewell circuit around the Kaaba, and the pilgrimage is over. Muhammad said that if a man goes on pilgrimage to Mecca-and abstains from marital relations and unjust dispute during that journey- "he returns from Hajj as pure and free from sins as on the day on which his mother gave birth to him." (Riyad as-Salihin Book 11, Hadith 1274).
Ask God to open the eyes of Muslims to see that we are born in sin, and that salvation is a free gift, not something we can obtain by works.