I once sat on a bus in Japan and talked to a young woman about my faith. I explained that I spoke to God in prayer and He answered my prayers, so I knew He was real. She was astonished. “When we say prayers to idols we don’t expect them to answer us”, she said. She understood something for the first time and I did too. Two world cultures were meeting and discovering the differences between them.
When I was six years old my father almost drowned in the sea. I was told by my mother that after hours in a life belt in the freezing cold sea, when all hope of survival had gone, he prayed and committed his family into God’s hands. It was immediately after that prayer that the lifeboat arrived and came to rescue him. At six years old I learnt that God exists and hears our prayers.
On arrival in Japan it was a shock to see lots of stone idols lined up on the wall of the temple. Each had a red bib tied on and pieces of fruit laid out in front of them. The trees at the Shinto Shrine had lots of bits of paper tied on to them. On each paper was a prayer, at least a kind of prayer. Why did the Japanese do things like that? If you ask them they say they don’t believe in any kind of God. But I believe the reality is that they fear not doing these traditional ceremonies in case something evil might come upon them.
Missionaries in Japan have the wonderful privilege of telling the Japanese people about the true and living God, who created the universe, and that He's interested in us all as unique human beings. He wants to have a loving relationship with us, through Jesus Christ, His Son.
One Japanese lady told me how she went to England and stayed with a family who took her with them to church. Nothing was really explained to her about God. Yet something stirred within her spirit and after returning to Japan she began seeking after a relationship with God. I wonder if we Christians realise what an awesome privilege it is to know that the God who made the universe wants a relationship with us.
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, I want to thank You that You have revealed Yourself to me. Thank You that I can come to You as Your child and simply speak to You, knowing You hear and answer me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.