A monthly day of prayer
Why not start next month with a day dedicated to extended communion and rest with God?
As each month begins, there’s a day on my calendar I eagerly await. This day feeds my soul and supplies much needed rest for my mind, body, and spirit. It propels me into another month of living and ministering in Japan. It’s dedicated to extended communion with God. I wouldn’t start a month without my day of prayer.
One thing is clear when I’m out among Japanese people each day—there is much work to be done. I see person after person who desperately needs the good news of Christ. I see scores of people who need an evangelistic-minded believer to pursue them relationally over a significant period of time with the steadfast love of Jesus. With this reality always before me, it’s easy to get sucked into the “non-stop work” mentality. It’s all too common for me to wake in the morning fixated on the list of tasks I must complete to make “my” contribution to the mission at hand. Like Martha, I find myself regularly “anxious and troubled about many things” (Luke 10:41 ESV). This mentality and heart condition is dangerous if left unchecked. It leads to exhaustion and a lack of dependence on God. I must continually recognize my need for God and my need for rest.
Day of prayer
Our team’s monthly day of prayer is held during the first week of every month. We dedicate eight hours on one day for prayer and refreshment. This day is vital in helping us to acknowledge and align our hearts with the truth that only through God can much be accomplished in our lives and in the lives of our Japanese friends. It’s a necessary reminder that we must look to God’s strength and provision and not to our own efforts. No amount of work we put in will produce long-lasting fruit “unless the Lord builds the house” (Ps. 127:1). It is also crucial that we slow down for rest and refreshment in the Lord.
This time of rest recharges us and gives us a boost that hopefully leads to working with diligence and excellence. With our restful day of prayer at the beginning of the month, it ideally sets the tone for the whole month, giving us an awareness of our need to take breaks. This in turn helps protect us from over-exhaustion and burnout.
Prepare in advance
It is helpful to prepare in advance for these days in order to maximize the time you have. This includes making a plan for what you will pray for, what passages you will meditate on, or what spiritual development resources you will read/listen to and pray through. You can also plan times of worship, silence, or prayer with others. A beneficial exercise I do during my day of prayer is to look back at the last month, look around at the present, and look ahead to the upcoming month. I take extended time processing and praying through these three things in regards to my relationship with God, my spiritual disciplines, my family and relationships, ministry in Japan, and the world. Extended time spent in focused, intentional communion with God is life-giving and rejuvenates my soul. Having a plan allows me to stay focused on God during my day of prayer instead of figuring things out on the day.
Our team is encouraged is to do something refreshing on these days. Whether it’s going to the bathhouse, to a coffee shop, on a nature walk, or to the golf range, there’s much rest to be found when combining quality alone time in God’s presence with doing something you love.
Depending on the season you are in individually or as a family, you might have to be flexible and/or creative. We have two small children, so my wife and I take different segments of the day, one of us praying in the morning and early afternoon, while the other does late afternoon and evening. Usually we try to pray together when making the switch in the afternoon. There are times, though, when we are each only able to get in four to six hours of prayer, and that is okay. We recognize our season and the need to show ourselves grace.
A monthly day of prayer is worth implementing and protecting. I thank God for the wonderful times of intimacy and refreshment spent in his presence on these days.