Hello, everybody! How are you doing in your various locations? I am doing quite well here in Hofu, Japan!
This week has been quite wonderful! Yesterday we had training and interviews with President Egan, which was very good. I learned many great things from training, and one that struck me a lot was something that Sister Egan shared concerning prayer. Whenever I think of prayer I often think of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane as he suffered for the sins and sorrows of the world. "And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly" (Luke 22:44). If Christ who was perfect can pray more earnestly then we, being imperfect, definitely can. Throughout my mission I have wanted to pray more earnestly and have heard many times in various trainings the importance of "wrestling" with God in "mighty" prayer, which I have wanted to do but have not been completely sure what particularly I needed to change in order to do so. However, Sister Egan taught us a very simple method for praying in faith that her son received during his mission 15 or so years ago. This method is drawn from various scriptural examples of faithful prayers:
1. Admit your weakness.
2. Express your desire.
3. Explain why you think it is important (as Sister Egan put it: "Plead your case").
4. State clearly and specifically what blessings you need from the Lord.
5. Tell the Lord what you will commit to do in order to receive those blessings.
I have definitely already witnessed a difference in how earnestly I pray as I have applied this method. I know that we can pray in faith just like our scriptural heroes did, and that as we do so we will be able to "bring down the powers of heaven".
This week we Elder Rowley and I met a young mother named Youko, an almost-new (we have not been able to set another appointment because of New Year’s celebrations) investigator who has expressed great interest. When we first met her she said mentioned that until two years ago she had not really thought about spiritual things. However, she married an American some years ago and they have lived in Malaysia for a while, during which time she has been opened to various religious and cultural beliefs and practices foreign to Japan. She is definitely much more curious and receptive than most people we meet. She mentioned that she liked the feeling at previous Christian churches she has gone to, so we are praying that she will come to church on Sunday and feel the Spirit there.
I know that this is the Lord’s work, and I love serving Him! I know that through the Spirit, God called me to serve; through His living prophet, God called me to serve in the Japan Fukuoka Mission; and through His President Egan, His chosen representative here, God has called me to serve in Hofu.
I love you all and hope you have a wonderful day, a superb week, and an awesome 366 days of this year!