Prayer: the best answer to challenging issues
A powerful way to deal with any challenge is to set up a creative way to pray regularly
One of the most powerful ways to deal with any challenge and any situation is to create a prayer room, a prayer corner, or a prayer file in order to spend extended times fervently bringing to Father God “all kinds of prayers and requests” (Eph. 6:18, NIV). In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught his disciples to pray in a private room: “But when you pray, go into your most private room, close the door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees [what is done] in secret will reward you” (Matt. 6:6, AMP). In the 2015 film, War Room, Miss Clara converted a closet in her house into a prayer room and plastered the walls with prayer requests and Scripture verses. She called it her “war room” because, as she put it, “In order to stand up and fight the enemy, you need to get on your knees and pray.”1 As a church council member, I have faced numerous challenges in recent years. After watching this film, I was greatly inspired to create my own prayer room like Miss Clara. As a result, I have seen many supernatural and awe-inspiring answers to countless prayers over the years.
Challenging issue #1: ministering to widows
It’s clear from scripture that churches are mandated to take care of their widows. God has given me a heart to minister to widows. In Summer 2015, a widowed church member fell and hit her head badly. This resulted in a hospital stay and a large medical bill of over 100,000 yen for an MRI and other medical tests. The church finance committee chairman asked me to pray for God to provide and bless this widow with extra finances.
God answered this specific prayer by providing 135,000 yen through freewill love offerings from several church members! This need was not widely advertised. Instead, council members quietly prayed about it in their prayer rooms at home. God went above and beyond our expectations of 100,000 yen. We can never out-give God. The widow in question was immensely grateful for our monetary gift and made a full recovery from her fall. I have also prayed for other widowed church members, and God has answered these prayers by providing clothing, shoes, food, gift vouchers, and money from church members who have felt led by the Holy Spirit to give to the ministry of supporting widows.
The church council has ministered to non-Japanese widowed church members who had been married to Japanese men. The challenges these widows face include isolation, loneliness, financial difficulties, as well as visa and language challenges. Some of them have children and grandchildren here, so they would prefer to remain in Japan long term. Another challenge included Buddhist in-laws who requested a Buddhist funeral rather than a Christian funeral for the widow’s deceased husband.
Once again, after praying for these needs, God answered in various ways. Some church members felt led to take these widows out for regular meals, especially on special occasions such as Mother’s Day and Christmas. As a result of prayer and support from the church, our widows are feeling loved and cared for, and they are also growing greatly in their Christian faith.
Additionally, the church council sought to resolve the issue of funerals in the future by creating Christian funeral documents for all church members to complete if they want to. These documents have given members an opportunity to make specific requests for the arrangements for their Christian funeral.
Challenging issue #2: dealing with suicide
In July 2016, a close Japanese friend in Osaka died by suicide. He was only forty-two years old. We had been good friends for fourteen years, and he had occasionally attended church with me. Just over three years later, another friend in his late thirties also died by suicide. Naturally I suffered shock, grief, loss, and great sadness in the months following, especially as both friends had never shown any outward signs of depression. I continually questioned myself and wished that I had done more to try to prevent their passing, but I had no idea whatsoever of the inward battle of deep depression they had wrestled with. Having gone through the traumatic experience of losing two friends to suicide in three years, I know how challenging suicide can be for family and friends left behind. Some of my friends have also lost friends this way. But my friends and I now know that God and his Holy Spirit will help relatives and friends through such a traumatic experience.
To help in our healing and recovery, my friends and I spent long times of prayer in our prayer rooms. We spent more time reading the Bible and worshipping God. We talked to friends a lot more. I still miss my two friends who died, and often think of them, but as a result of prayer and support from the Holy Spirit and other friends, God is healing my heart. I will continue to pray for the families that these two young men left behind.
Challenging issue #3: the global persecuted church
In Spring 2020, I posted some beautiful Kansai postcards of encouragement to two Christian children of a church pastor in Mexico, where Christians are sometimes persecuted for their faith. I also prayed for them. At that time these children were required to live separately from their Christian parents due to severe persecution.
This past summer God answered my prayers and the prayers of other Christians around the world, and this Mexican family is now reunited and living together in the same house.
Preparing a prayer room
A prayer room or corner, or a prayer file will help you to pray more intentionally and will make it an exciting daily routine. Items could include:
- A small room or closet.
- Bible. God will often speak through the Bible during extended times of prayer.
- Prayer guide. One of the best is Operation Japan (reviewed in the Summer 2020 issue of Japan Harvest).
- Prayer journal or file and a pen for keeping a record of prayer requests and answers.
- Sticky notes for posting prayer requests on the walls.
- Posters of Scripture verses: enlarged key scriptures posted on the walls will build your faith.
- Map of the world: for praying for various countries and the persecuted church.
- List of names of not-yet-believers you are praying for.
- Photographs of missionaries you support.
- Prayer jar for storing all your answered prayers. It will be a great blessing to take them out and reread them at the end of every year!
There should be no phones so that you don’t get distracted. If you don’t have a room or closet, a corner of a room or a portable prayer file will work just as well. At the end of 2019, YouTuber Alexis Ashley made two prayer binders for 2020: a larger one for the whole year and a smaller one to be carried around for daily use. Ashley’s subject sections for her binder included:
- spouse, family, friends, etc.
- reaching beyond
I pray that in creating a prayer room or prayer file, you will worry less and will pray more intentionally and regularly. Your relationship with the Lord will be strengthened, your faith will be emboldened, your prayer life will be more vibrant, and you will witness some amazing answers to prayer.
1. Wikipedia contributors, “War Room (film),” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=War_Room_(film) (accessed May 22, 2020).
2. Alexis Ashley, “Prayer Binder War Binder Set Up 2020,” YouTube video, December 17, 2019, https://youtu.be/gx9gy-5k6xw (accessed Oct. 19, 2020).
Photo by Alex Fung