Prayer accompanied by action
In our church, we have a prayer room just for young people.
I had heard about an ongoing prayer chain in European countries called 24-7 Prayer (www.24-7prayer.com). On one island with a lot of crime, some young people prayed 24-7 and the crime rate decreased. The young people prayed, listened to the voice of the Lord, and went out to evangelize and meet the needs of the area.
A Christian who doesn’t pray will always be weak. A Christian who prays but keeps all the blessings to themselves will also be weak. Just as a river that does not flow will stagnate, the benefits and blessings we receive from God must flow out to others. As the church is blessed, the congregation grows and its ministry expands, but problems also arise. We need to receive solutions and strength directly from God through prayer. And that experience will add meat to the bones of our faith.
But just providing people with a room and telling them to pray does not ensure that they will pray. For that to happen, we have done various things.
In the youth prayer room, we have set up a stereo so they can listen to hymns, spiritual songs, and sermons. We have it stocked with construction paper and colored pencils so they can put into pictorial form the visions that God gives them. We let them hang these pictures on the wall. There is a huge map of Yokohama city so they can pray for the area. There is also a mailbox where they can place letters to God and a wastebasket for disposing of notes on which confessed sins have been written.
Prayer is communication with God, so singing, drawing, and confessing sin are all types of prayer. It is important to realize that prayer is not just a one-way thing where we talk to God—it is also taking time to listen to what he has to say to us.
Once preparations have been made, we try to have 24-1 prayer (a one-day prayer chain) or 24-3 prayer (three days of continuous prayer) whenever there is a long vacation. Each person who signs up prays for one hour. It’s amazing how quickly the time slots fill up, especially for nighttime hours. Those who go to the prayer room at night stay overnight at the church.
The young people who enter the prayer room at night come out beaming. “The minute I entered the room, I knew God was there.” Or “God heard all of my prayers.” At any rate, they are all changed by that wonderful experience. There are some who find the solution to their problems. Others make important decisions in a godly way. And many have made the decision to be baptized. Above all, when they pray for others, they are changed so that they can listen to the heart of God.
This can only happen because of the work of the Holy Spirit. As long as this flame of prayer continues, I am certain that revival in Japan is imminent.
From the December 2008 issue of Inochi no Kotoba, a mini-magazine by Word of Life Press Ministries. The article is part three of “Observing the Times 171: The Church that Meets the Needs of the Community.” Translated by Ken Reddington.
Keishi Ikeda was the youth pastor of Hongōdai Christ Church (JECA) when this article was written. He is now lead pastor.