1 million hours of prayer for the Tokyo Olympics

(Photo: Unsplash)

As all eyes turn to Tokyo for the Olympics and Paralympics, Japanese Christians are inviting the global Church to unite for one million hours of prayer for the spiritual transformation of their nation.

In Japan committed believers make up less than one percent of the population, It is the second largest un-reached people group in the world. Less than one per cent of its 126 million population attend church.

Japan 1 Million is led by the Japan international Sports Partnership (JiSP) and Japan Evangelical Missionary Association (JEMA). They are calling on churches, individuals and families across the world to unite in prayer for Japan as it takes centre stage during the Olympics and Paralympics.

Pastor Keishi Ikeda is the leader of JiSP. He says, "When it comes to the good news of Christianity being spread, I am driven by a vision to see the Japanese Church grow to ten million people by 2024.

"Imagine ten million Christians in Japan...This would change Japan," he said.

"And not just Japan, we could send teams from Japan into other countries that many can't get into as our passport is the strongest in the world.

"Working towards that vision, we had hoped to reach a million Japanese people during our Olympic outreach year. Covid closed those doors, but one door remained open; the door to prayer.

Pastor Keishi Ikeda believes the power of prayer can bring miracles through the Tokyo Olympics

"When things were difficult, the early Church would move into a season of prayer. We believe this is what God is saying to the Church in Japan. We can't do the mission we had planned, but we can pray," said Pastor Keishi.

As Japan steps into the spotlight during these Olympic Games, Christians in Japan are calling on their global brothers and sisters to sign up for at least one hour of prayer for the spiritual awakening of Japan. The cry has become, "Together for 1 million."

"This is a grassroots movement of people across Japan and the world. People who want to come together to see a move of God in Japan. This vision of a million hours of prayer for Japan has captured our hearts. We share it with everyone we can," said Pastor Keishi.

The Japan 1 Million website invites people to record their hours of prayer and access daily prayer updates during the Olympics and Paralympics.

In partnership with the YouVersion Bible app, the team has also launched Pray 4 Japan, a 17-day Bible and prayer plan available globally in English and Japanese.

Edwin Orr noted three distinctives in his study of awakenings. People came together 'in one accord', people heard the Good News in their own 'heart language' and always there was a deep, ongoing passion and commitment to prayer.

A church in Singapore over the past three months has been running 24/7 prayer for Japan. They wrote to the organizers, "We are believing with you for greater breakthroughs."

Leo Kaylor, a missionary who served in Japan for 68 years was an early sign up to Japan1million. "It's time to see the spiritual darkness broken up and to see a mighty move of the Holy Spirit. I am so happy to be a part of this."

While the website is available in English, Japanese and Korean other nations are translating it and making it available. In Brazil sports people are training and committing to pray as they exercise. The prayer partner who is rallying Christians in Brazil to join in sport and prayer for Japan says, "We know our medal is not sporting achievement, rather it is to see the glory and power of God manifested through the unity of His Church."

"We are praying for the unity of the Church and the softening of Japanese hearts," says Pastor Keishi.

"Do we believe that prayer is the most strategic and effective thing we can do?" he asks. "I believe God will surprise everyone in the world by what He will do in Japan.

"I am willing to do anything to see ten million believers in my country by 2024. I want to see my nation come alive spiritually, not just to host an Olympic Games.

"Imagine the impact of hundreds of thousands of Jesus followers around the world praying with one accord for just one nation? What would God do?

"We are preparing for the greatest movement of united prayer in reaching Japan for Christ. Will you join us?"

Marty Woods works with the Japanese International Sports Partnership (JiSP).