Prayer is one of the most important disciplines God’s people can engage in. Jesus prayed and fasted regularly (Luke 4:1ff, 5:16, 6:12), and taught us to be people of prayer (Matt. 5:5ff; 26:41). We are also told to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17) and to be “constant in prayer” (Rom. 12:12). Prayer really does matter to God, and it impacts the outcomes of events in the world.
We believe this, and that is why our family has been praying frequently about our upcoming work in Japan. However, we both want and need others to be in prayer with us. We believe God listens to his people, and that even in this time of social distancing, we can find solidarity and community in our common prayers. However, you may be uncertain of how to pray for us specifically. So, we’d like to share a few things you can be praying for specifically over the next month.
1: Pray for the virus to weaken.
This one is kind of obvious, but it’s also very important! Pray that effective therapies and vaccines will arise rapidly. Pray that God will give success to the efforts to lessen the spread, and that he will cause conditions to be favorable for the natural weakening of the virus, and that he will intervene directly to weaken it.
2. Pray for government leaders to make decisions favorable to our work.
Proverbs 21:1 reads: “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.” The God who is sovereign over the times and places of all nations (Acts 17:26-27) is completely able to move regulations in favor of the work of his Kingdom.
3. Pray against the work of the Evil One.
Jesus taught us that the evil one is at work to prevent the spread of the gospel (Matt. 13:19, 38), and he also showed us an example to pray against his work (Jn. 17:15). Please be praying that Satan’s efforts will be thwarted by God and allow the work to continue.
4. Pray for our physical, emotional, and spiritual health.
This is a trying time for everyone. We are sure that everyone needs these prayers! We do not want any issue to inhibit our work. Pray that we will be patient and faithful and steadfast as we wait for God’s timing, that we will remain healthy and strong, and that nothing will arise to stop this work from ultimately moving forward.
5. Pray for the Matsudo Church.
The Matsudo church has canceled service for at least a few weeks due to the virus. Because Matsudo does not have a minister or any elders or deacons, they have no one to directly help them out during this time. It is also difficult for the older members to stay connected. Please pray that they will be able to gather together again soon, and that their faith will remain strong while they are apart. Satan will try to attack his people during this time. Please pray against his work.
6. Pray for our sister in Matsudo.
One of our sisters at the Matsudo Church (we’ll call her Mrs. S for the purpose of this blog) is a stalwart member of the congregation, and has done so much for us over the years. She is also a principal at a Christian kindergarten in Tokyo. This past week, one of her staff was taken to the hospital with a very high fever. She is naturally concerned about a positive test for COVID-19, and the potential impacts on her school. Thankfully, the x-ray was negative for pneumonia, but please pray the test comes back negative and that there is no spread at any point at her school.Update: we are happy to say that the staff at Mrs. S’ school tested negative for the virus! We are so thankful to God for hearing our prayers. He is good, and we are grateful!
7. Pray for Japan’s other churches, ministers, and missionaries.
As small as Christianity is in Japan, there are many faithful servants striving to serve God’s Kingdom there right now. They need your prayers. For them as for us, the adjustments are difficult, but in some ways even more so because of how few Christians there are. Please pray for their spirits to be uplifted through the Spirit, to enable them to continue to bear fruit.
8. Pray for what we are doing now.
While we cannot be physically in Japan at this moment, there is still work we are trying to do. Leslie has been making Japanese devotional videos each week and sharing them on Facebook, in the hopes that those who are connected with him (including a couple of members at the Matsudo church) can receive some encouragement. We are also still preparing for our work when we get to Japan, and all the more as we anticipate potential adjustments due to the virus. It may not be much, but any fruit we can produce, no matter how small, is a joy. But, as in all things, we need God’s help to make our efforts fruitful.
9. Pray the virus sows seeds of the Kingdom.
Speaking of all the harm his brothers had planned against him, Joseph said to them, “you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Gen. 50:20). Likewise, Satan may mean to do evil by this virus, but God can use it for good. Please pray that this time of pestilence is preparing many hearts for the spread and growth of the gospel.
We are sure that there are many other things you could be praying for. If you think of something else, please add that to your list! But these nine points are some of the things we have been praying about and would love to have you join in with us.
Of course, many of these points are not just related to our work, but to the work of other missions as well. We know of at least 3 different missions efforts which are in limbo right now because of the virus, and we are certain there are many more we don’t know about specifically. Your prayers in these areas impact more than just our work, so please be praying not just for us but for others as well.
Thank you so much for your prayers on our behalf. Please know how grateful we are for each and every word spoken to the Lord for our family and our work!