Isaiah 64:4 Since ancient times no-one has heard,
no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.
The thing is, God acts on behalf of those who are faithful to Him. Answered prayer is not a fantasy! Other religions have their mythologies, but no other religion even has the tradition of a Creator who cares enough to act, just as this verse says. Atheists try to poo poo the whole idea of prayer, but there have been several actual scientific studies that show it makes a difference. Actually, what scares a lot of people is the awareness that if there is a God who answers us, we have to answer to Him, and that can be terrifying. Japanese Buddhism has the tradition of “Enma Sama,” the Judge of the Dead. That actually comes from Chinese mythology and has no basis in original Buddhism, but there are Japanese temples that have paintings that look like something from Bosch or Dante, except all the figures are oriental. (A Japanese pastor I know, who was actually raised in a Buddhist temple, said it always bothered him that those being judged and tormented were depicted as Japanese, but Enma was in Chinese garb!) People have an innate awareness that “Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27) They try to get around that with ideas like reincarnation, but the basic awareness is still there. The Bible, on the other hand, teaches us that yes, we are accountable to God, but God has made a way for us to be acquitted on the basis of His Son’s righteousness rather than our own. That goes a step beyond even this verse. There is certainly no other God like that, in any religion at all! Those who choose to trust Him, to repent of their rebellion and throw themselves on His grace and mercy, discover that He is no fantasy at all, but is as real – or even more real – as they are.
The idea of such a personal God is totally foreign to the average Japanese. I get disbelief when I tell people that I have had times of fellowship with God in worship when I was more aware of His reality than I was of my own. That is one of many barriers to the Gospel in Japan. People with a Judaeo-Christian heritage, even if they have no personal faith, still have the intellectual framework of a personal God, but that is missing in Japan. I am not to let that deter me, but rather be faithful to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom of God, to be entered by repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. I am to tell people that God indeed acts on behalf of those who wait expectantly on Him, just as this verse says, whether they believe it at first or not. My life is to be a demonstration and verification of the truth I proclaim, so that those who see me may be drawn to Him who gives me life.
Father, thank You for the privilege of being Your agent. I pray for those to whom I minister, and actually for all who see and know me. May the veil be lifted from their eyes (2 Corinthians 4:3-4) so that they may not perish, but repent and believe for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!