We live in suburban Tokyo. Ten minutes' walk from the railway station the buildings are mainly stand-alone houses, packed closely, some with small gardens, but with little space for the sun's rays to reach. Where the light does make it through, it is frequently filtered out by layers of shutters, opaque windows and thick curtains. In the background are low-rise apartments, with high-rise buildings dotted along the skyline. Block after block this metropolitan landscape repeats itself with little to distinguish one neighbourhood from another.
The layers are not only physical. Century after century of human behaviour, decisions, choices, generation after generation of resistance to the light is evident. Spiritual entities rule the airways and continue to keep the populace in darkness. I find myself wondering what it will take to turn the tide and open up the way for God's Spirit. How can we even begin to make a difference?
It often feels random that we live here. What is one suburban block in the immense city like Tokyo? We long to see a large-scale breakthrough in Tokyo, but as I walk around the block with the express purpose of praying, I am reminded that each individual matters to God. I pray for the names on the post boxes. I pray for the school, the kids at the park, the community centre and the library. I pray that people would see the shrine as it truly is and would hunger and thirst for the true God. I pray according to my senses and according to my understanding, but I also pray that God would show me what he sees, what is hidden through all the layers, what His heart is for my neighbourhood. I ask Him to give us favour and to open doors. I pray for the fulfilment of the words from Isaiah 42; 'The Lord will march out like a mighty man, like a warrior he will stir up his zeal; with a shout he will raise the battle cry and will triumph over his enemies,' .... 'I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn darkness into light before them, and make the rough places smooth.'
It takes faith to persevere with prayer walking, but I feel that my heart for our neighbourhood has become slightly more aligned with God's each time, and though I can't see any immediate results I come home feeling that I have been hard at work tilling the soil.
By Alison N
Alison and her family serve in Japan with OMF. If you would like to learn more about the work and vision of OMF, please visit their website www.omf.org/nz