One week from now, the emperor of Japan, Emperor Akihito, will officially abdicate and the new emperor, soon-to-be Emperor Naruhito, will take his place. Much like England’s royal family, the emperor of Japan has no legal authority in the country, but that does not mean the status is unimportant. The change of the emperor is a major event in the nation’s life, marking not only the literal end of an era, but also an important change to the nation’s calendar. While Japan uses the Western year system (e.g. 2019), it also uses its own system based upon the year of the Emperor’s reign. The current era is called Heisei, and has been active since January 1989. This will change in one week when Naruhito officially becomes emperor, with the new era set to be named Reiwa.
According to Japan’s Foreign Ministry, the meaning of Reiwa is “beautiful harmony.” Such a lovely name, isn’t it? I certainly hope that Japan will be filled with beauty and harmony in the coming era. While cultural and societal harmony is a pleasant thing, the most beautiful harmony we can have is harmony with God himself, and this is possible only because of Jesus (John 14:15-24). Not only can we have harmony with God through Christ, but we can also have full harmony with each other (Eph. 2:11-22). It is this spiritual harmony that I most want to see in Japan in this new era.
As I think about the spiritual possibilities in this new era of Japan’s life, I’m excited, to say the least! Over the coming week, I’m going to be spending some time in prayer, praying for the people of Japan, for the nation’s leadership, and for the various Kingdom workers currently in the country. I’d like to share with you the kind of prayer I will be praying, and invite you to join in praying with me in this:
We thank you so much for the many wonderful spiritual blessings you give us in Jesus Christ. We know that it is only because of Jesus that we have hope in this world, and it is through him and because of him that we can be in harmony with you, reconciled to you by his blood. It is this same harmony which we pray you will bring to the people of Japan.
For so long, the gospel has struggled to take root in this country. You know that there are so many cultural and material barriers that prevent people from obeying the gospel. Yet, we know that, the root of the problems is not earthly, but spiritual in nature. We know that the evil one, the Adversary, is at work to prevent people from coming to know you.
Yet, we also know that you are infinitely more powerful than the enemy, and so we pray to you to overturn his influence and work in this country to transform it into something completely new. We know you have said that you are “making all things new,” and we long to see that newness come powerfully on the people of Japan. We long to see a nation that knows not only harmony among its people, but most of all, harmony with you.
Father, as this new era – the Reiwa era – begins, we pray that you would please be at work in this country so that its people would come to find harmony with you. We pray for the leaders of the nation, those present and those to come, that they might make decisions which would bless the nation. We pray that you would grant them wisdom and love, so that they might serve the people righteously and effectively for their good, in a way that honors you. We pray that you protect them from harm, and that they might protect the nation from harm, both physical and spiritual.
We also pray that many people would hear the gospel and obey. We pray that they may hear it in fresh ways that resonate with their hearts and pull them to you. We pray that many people would see how much more they need your Son than they need houses, clothing, and the material goods of life. We pray that they might be willing to give up house and home for the sake of knowing Jesus. We pray that you would breathe spiritual life into this nation, so that many might awake from the dead, and experience the light of Christ shining on them.
We pray for the many Japanese people who have already been obedient to the gospel, and are struggling to stay faithful and grow and be fruitful servants. You know how hard it is for so many of them, and how many pressures they have working against them. Father, we pray that, by the power of your Spirit within your people, you would strengthen them to know your love, and to be faithful to the end. We pray that you would help them to grow and mature so that they may more fully know you as you know them. Help them to love your written word, so that they will spend time in it and grow closer to you. Help them to love time with you, so that they will dedicate time each day to speaking with you in prayer. Thank you so much for allowing us to come boldly before you in prayer!
We pray also for the workers at various places across the country. You know how challenging it can be to teach others and work within this country Father, and so we ask again by your Spirit that you would strengthen those working for the Kingdom in Japan. Whether in the major cities or small towns across the country, we ask that you would help these people to have the spiritual strength to stay faithful to you, first and foremost. Help them to live upright lives that reflect your righteousness to the world. We pray that you give them clarity of mind to teach the scriptures accurately and faithfully. We pray that you lead them to the right people, the right encounters, the right places and times, so that they may connect with those who are seeking you. Please help them to stay strong and continue to serve you, and may you bless them with spiritual fruit in their work.
Father, this is our prayer for this new era of Japan’s history. May those who do not yet know you come to know you through Christ. May those who do already know you come closer to you and your beauty. And may those working in the nation stay strong, stay faithful, and may you bless them to see how their work is serving your Kingdom. May the Reiwa era in Japan be an era of spiritual revival, as the gospel begins takes root and spreads. May this new era see your holy name glorified, your Spirit at work, your Son honored, and your Kingdom increased. May the Reiwa era see many people experience the full beauty and harmony of a reconciled relationship with you through your Son, Jesus Christ.
We pray all of this in his name,