I would be remise if I did not throw out my $0.02 on the Japanese Earthquake and tsunami. Here is a little background so you know that I am writing from experience and not just some Joe who has no real idea. I am half Japanese. My father is Japanese-American, born in America. His parents survived internment camp during World War II. In case you didn’t know, as terrible as that was, it did serve as a good networking opportunity for the Japanese American community. As recent as a few years ago, I was out with my dad, and someone recognized his last name, and asked who his parents were. He told them, and they said they remembered his parents from camp. I digress. I have also lived in Japan for a year as an exchange student. So, I really understand how the Japanese think, what their families and values are and the culture. Today, I would like to shed some insight into some of these things, so I can help you know how to pray.
The official religion in Japan is Shinto, a polytheistic religion. Though most people in Japan claim to be either Shinto or Buddhist, they practice their religion as much as a typical American, major holidays and life events. I would classify the Japanese as Atheistic. They are an extremely proud people and self-reliant. What does all this equal? In their minds, they have no need for God.
Even if they had a need for God, they are too busy for God. Kids go to school from 8:00-3:00, then have club activities, until about 5:00 (all kids participate in clubs) and don’t get home until 6:00 or 6:30. Then, when they get home, they have hours of homework every night. Most schools are in session every other Saturday as well for half a day. The man of the home works about 10-15 hours a day, and uses the weekend to catch up on rest from exhausting himself all week.
Japan is a wealthy country, and the people are extremely intelligent. So, to convince them that God exists is not an easy task. Since they are wealthy (by and large), and proud they feel no dependency upon God for their material needs.
I once got to talk with a missionary to Japan who said that these factors make Japan one of the hardest mission fields to work in. It is not uncommon for a missionary to preach in Japan for 15 years before their first convert.
So, how can you pray for Japan in this crisis?
1) Pray for the missionaries in Japan to have wisdom in knowing how to meet the needs of the Japanese people, and use the current situation to bring glory to God.
2) Pray that as the infrastructure of Japan is being fixed they would embrace a slower pace of life. For me, I hear God much more clearly when I can get away from the noise, hurry and crowds. Maybe the same will be true of them.
3) Pray that if they are willing to accept the possibility of the existence of One True God, their hearts would be open to accept Him, and not angry that this happened.
4)Pray that as the relief effort happens, God’s love is shared through Christian organizations that respond. While you are at it, pray for these organizations as well, both Christian and secular organizations.
My heart breaks for the Japanese people today. One last thought to leave you with. I had a Sunday School teacher who would remind us regularly that the two most powerful forces on earth are tornadoes (natural) and the atomic bomb (man-made). An atomic bomb could not stop a tornado, nor can a tornado stop an atomic bomb, but a prayer can stop both. The earthquake has already happened, but through prayer, God can open the hearts of the Japanese people to receive Him, and that is my prayer.