Daily I have people ask me, “What is 24-7 Prayer Japan?” I stare at them dumbly and stumble over words as if this is the first time I’ve ever been asked. I thinking to myself, “this is so hard! I should be able to articulate this better.” The problem isn’t in the response so much as the question. Rather than asking “what” is 24-7 Prayer it’s more appropriate to say “who” is 24-7 Prayer. That I can answer.
I’m a member of a family, a tribe of people seeking to love God and love one another. We pray and out of prayer communities are started. We build relationships and love nations. Some of us fight for people to be set free from human trafficking in Kansas City and others of us lay hands on leaders in China and pray for restoration and healing. Still others use their artistic gifts to express the complexity and beauty of God throughout Europe. We each bring out gifts and garbage to the Body and share them with one another, honoring, celebrating and walking this thing out together.
Japan fell in our laps after 40 years of prayer and relentless waiting. When connections were made and doors opened in January of 2011 Jon Peterson, Joe Steinke and Wendy Andrews traveled to Tokyo seeking ways to serve. Two months later when the tsunami struck, our community (Boiler Room) responded with prayer and worship. Jon and Wendy continued to travel to Japan and connect with leaders and churches throughout Yokohama and Tokyo. In June we sent our first prayer team to Tohoku with CRASH Japan. Since then we’ve been committed to seeking the Lord for this nation, hearing His heart and proclaiming hope throughout the land. Friends have come from all over America to prayer and serve. Others are joining us from Europe. Here in Japan we’re getting to know like-hearted Jesus-lovers from every corner of the world. The Lord has not given up on Japan and is drawing together of some of the most unlikely people to love on east Asia. Which is where I come into play.
Prior to the summer of 2011 the only reason I’d been to Japan was to change planes on my way to China. It was an international hub, a place to pass through, never a resting place, never a spot to stop and pray. Certainly never a home. All of that changed this past September when God and his friends invited me to move to Tokyo. I began receiving teams in October. Mostly we listen. We listen to survivors tell their stories, we listen to trauma as well as testimonies. Because most of the folks who come through don’t speak Japanese we listen to nonverbals, to tears and distant far-away glances that speak so clearly. We listen to the pastors share the concerns and dreams and we let it affect us. We let it move us and changes our communities back home. There’s a lot of listening to be done in Japan.
My primary joy will always be listening to the voice of my God. I love his tone. I’m attracted to His ways, to his language and his little nuances…the ones that are easy to miss unless you really find that still place. Then you see his eyes well up as you pray John 17 over Sendai and sing Hallelujah over Tono. In quietness and rest you can hear his heart beat fast when you mention Kesennuma. When I listen in Shibuya I hear the feet of his angels hitting the perfectly swept pavement as they dance throughout the streets and proclaim joy to a lonely, depressed generation. It’s good to listen. When I let myself listen to Japan, to her stories, her grief and pain, of the promises yet to be fulfilled and the sound of victorious shouts of salvation, when I stopped fighting and let go of the fear of falling in love with yet another nation, that’s when my heart turned. I said yes to Japan. I want her for Jesus. He is worthy of a beautiful Japanese bride!
24-7 Prayer Japan is in baby stage. With proper nurture and care babies grow up,though, and we are believing for a long history of 24-7 Prayer in this nation. We’re committed. We’re not going anywhere. When disaster relief efforts come to a close we’ll keep praying, keep building family and making friends, keep worshiping in dark places and skipping all over these beautiful islands sharing the contagious love of our Father. Because He’s in it for the long haul we are too. Today I can’t tell you what that looks like, whether it’s a future community plant or boiler room, a resource center or prayer initiatives. Probably all of it. It won’t always be me. If you start listening and letting your heart be opened, who knows, it could be you. But we’re not anxious to get busy or make things happen. There’s a glorious freedom in only doing what the Father does and we trust He’ll lead us perfectly as we pioneer new friendships. There’s a place where grace abounds and eternal fruit grows. That’s where we want to live. We recognize it takes a long time to build a home and even longer to grow a family, so here we go.
If you’re interested in following 24-7 Prayer in Japan please subscribe. The purpose of this site is to share stories, ways that God is moving. We’ll post pictures and creative ways to pray for Japan. If all you do is say, “God open my heart to this nation and teach me to listen to the leading of your Holy Spirit”, it would be enough. We’re believing that nations can be changed by the simple invitation, “Holy Spirit, you are welcome here.”
In case you really do want to know “what is 24-7 Prayer”.
24-7 Prayer is an international, interdenominational movement of prayer, mission and justice that began with a single, student-led prayer vigil in Chichester, England in 1999 and has spread, by word-of-mouth, into 100+ nations.
The 24-7 movement seeks to prioritize Christ’s two greatest commandments: to love God with all our hearts and to love our neighbors as ourselves (Mark 12:30). We pray and work for reconciliation at three levels: spiritually – where there is broken relationship with God, socially – where there is broken relationship between people, and environmentally – where there is broken relationship with our world. 24-7 Prayer exists, therefore, ‘to reconcile the world to God through Jesus Christ’. We seek to do this by mobilising the Church in prayer, mission and justice.