Why Bother to Pray for Israel?
Why Care about the Nation of Israel?
To the majority of the world Israel is a ‘thorn in the flesh’. She is a focal point of Middle East tension and aggression and an insoluble political problem for world leaders. Even the institutionalized church says Israel is of no significance today, link. So why should followers of Christ pray for Israel? Many refer to the prayer request in Psalm 122:
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: May those who love you be secure. May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels. For the sake of my family and friends, I will say, “Peace be within you.” For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek your prosperity.
History: This is an intercessory prayer by the Palmist David. Written around 1,015 BC, link and towards the end of his life, David was requesting prayer for his brothers and friends in Jerusalem. Bear in mind that around 1,000 BC David conquered Jerusalem and made it the capital of the Kingdom of Israel, link. Then there is the blessing “peace be upon Israel” found in Psalms 125 and 128. These Psalms were written around 536 BC as some Jews returned to Israel from the Babylonian captivity.
Today: Since these Psalms were written, Israel (and Jerusalem in particular) has been far from peaceful. A spiritual battle rages over Jerusalem and prophecy says that this battle will intensify at the end of the age. Today, Israel’s Arab neighbours threaten the very survival of Israel. Nevertheless, Jerusalem means “City of Peace”: Jeru means “city” in ancient Semitic languages and Shalem means “peace” (wholeness). So today we should pray that the city will live up to its name. The peace sought here means much more than the absence of conflict. Besides Israel’s protection (which is promised by God), this ‘peace’ also suggests completeness, health, justice and prosperity. These are key elements in Christ’s Millennial kingdom. So when we pray for the peace of Jerusalem, or the peace of Israel today, are we not also praying for a hastening of the return of Christ to Mount Zion?
A Jewish View of Prayer
The English word ‘prayer’ means ‘beseech’, ‘implore’, ‘plead’ for something. The Hebrew noun ‘bakashah’ means the same i.e. ‘request’ or ‘petition’. The theme here implies two distinct entities, an inferior one making a request of a Superior.
Practicing Jews prefer to use the word ‘tefillah’ which means much more than prayer. Tefillah is etymologically related to the root word ‘tofel’ — meaning ‘reconnect’ or ‘bond’. So tefillah implies a movement towards G_d in order to achieve communion or oneness with Him (rather than simply making a petition to a Superior Being), link. The New Testament has a similar concept when it urges us to “enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus” (Heb 10.19). In fact it goes even further in that “oneness” can be achieved by the Godhead coming to make their home with man: Yeshua said that if a man loves God and keeps His commandments then “We will come and make Our home with him” (Jn 14.23). That is surely communion with God, and is much deeper than prayer.
Some are Praying for Israel
God has set Watchmen on the Walls of Jerusalem
I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem (Isa 62.6)
What is the role of a ‘watchman’ in the Bible? God made the prophet Ezekiel a watchman for the House of Israel. Ezekiel’s role was to first hear the word of God and then to pass on what he heard to Israel. In Ezekiel’s case, he passed on warnings, even if they didn’t want to hear them (Ezek 33.7). In Old Testament times the watchman blew the shofar to warn Israel of impending danger (Amos 3.6). That is still true, and today’s watchmen should be alert to future problems for Israel and sound the alarm (this time by the media).
An awesome song echoing Isaiah 62
But a watchmen can also be an encourager, one who ‘builds-up’, as in Isa 62. Here the watchmen are focused in multiple directions: on the coming glory and righteousness of Jerusalem (Zion), on the return of God’s people to their own land, on the coming blessings of the land itself, and on the witness of Israel to the Gentile nations:
I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they shall never hold their peace day and night. You who make mention of the LORD, do not keep silent, and give Him no rest till He establishes and till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth (Isa 62.6,7)
Powerful Prayer in History
God cares for His people Israel, and He answered the prayers of Israel’s leaders in the past. Recall how God heard Israel’s cries in Egypt and delivered His people (Acts 7.34), how He parted the sea for them (Exod 14.16), how He provided water out of the rock when they were thirsty (Exod 17.6, Num 20.11) and gave Israel meat in the desert when they were hungry (Exod 16.12). Recall how God defeated the Philistine who defied the armies of Israel (1 Sam 18.50), how He answered Elijah by fire (1 Kings 18.38), reversed the shadow on the sun dial, as requested (Isa 38.8), and heard Elijah’s prayer for rain (Ja 5.17,18).
Powerful Prayer Today
The cross of Christ speaks of His sacrificial death for mankind. And an empty cross speaks of His resurrection. Jesus lives today! and He promises all who believe in Him that He is always with them, right to the end of the age (Mat 28.20). As their ‘High Priest’ Jesus has become the one and only Mediator between God and man, and He lives to make intercession to God the Father for all who trust in Christ (Heb 7.25). This means that believers made righteous in Christ through His sacrifice for them on the cross can now come ‘boldly’ to God through Jesus and God will hear their prayer. Jesus said:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you” (Jn 16.23)
Now that is some promise! Through fervent earnest prayer, believers can ask the God of all creation to intervene in the affairs of men (James 5.16-18). This was demonstrated in Britain during the 20th century as the fervent prayer of a few individuals led to the Hebridean and Welsh Revivals, link. And there’s more. Jesus gives His followers spiritual power and authority to take action in His name, link. So Israel’s watchmen are well equipped!
How to Pray for Israel: Derek Prince
Derek Prince lived in Jerusalem for much of his life and had a deep love for the Jewish people. He was a charismatic Bible teacher and a leading international authority on Bible prophecy. Over the years he came to understand that prayer is most effective in three stages: proclamation, thanksgiving and praise. In his travels Derek found that God placed great emphasis on proclamation. The word ‘proclaim’ is derived from a Latin verb which means ‘to shout forth’ or ‘to shout aloud.’ It means to declare something with great boldness and strength. He gave a number of proclamation examples, such as, link :
Father God, remove the veil You have sovereignly placed over the eyes of Israel, that they would recognize Jesus as their Messiah (2 Corinthians 3:14)
Lord, show Your mercy and favor to Israel in this set time (Psalm 102:13)
The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; He makes their plans of no effect (Psalm 33:10). We declare that God’s purposes for Israel will be completely fulfilled and that He will be glorified
God hears when you pray for Israel
God cares for His people Israel. The Bible says they are ‘the apple (pupil) of God’s eye’. Recall how God delivered His people from Egypt (Acts 7.34), how He parted the sea for them (Exod 14.16), how He provided water out of the rock (Exod 17.6, Num 20.11) and gave Israel meat in the desert (Exod 16.12). Recall how God defeated the Philistine who defied the armies of Israel (1 Sam 18.50), how He answered Elijah by fire (1 Kings 18.38), reversed the shadow on the sun dial (Isa 38.8), blessed Solomon’s kingdom (1 Kings 3.13) and heard Elijah’s prayer for rain (Ja 5.17,18). Many also believe that God delivered Israel from defeat in the 1967 6-day war, link. Jews across the world thanked God for the great miracles that happened. These examples encourage us to pray for Israel.
The Lord’s Prayer for Israel Today
The disciples asked Jesus …”Lord, teach us to pray” and He replied with a model prayer that has become a classic – a brief and compact prayer but full of deep truths and instructions for godly living (Lk 11.2-4). Let’s see how it applies today and especially in the context of modern Israel:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name – a prayer of adoration and worship to the God of Israel who’s throne is in heaven. In prayer Jews usually address God as ‘Adonai’ (Lord). But here Jesus alludes to a warm and free family relationship between God and man, whilst retaining awe and respect. Such a relationship is only possible through the Mediator, Jesus Christ. Pray that God’s people will soon enter into such a warm relationship with Him.
Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven – a prayer for the growth of the kingdom of heaven here on earth, but also looking to the end of the age when all unrighteousness is removed from the kingdom of heaven. It looks to the time when the kingdom of heaven is perfected to become like the kingdom of God, to the time when Christ rules as King from Jerusalem. In contrast, Jews are looking for their Moshiach, a great earthly king who will deliver Israel and usher in world peace. Pray that Jews will recognise Christ as their coming king.
Give us this day our daily bread – an acknowledgement that all we really need actually comes from God. Jesus tells us to “seek first His kingdom” and God will provide our needs – often through those who love Israel. Today man prefers to be self-sufficient, but as we near the end of the age believers and God’s people Israel will be forced to turn more and more to their Creator and Sustainer. In 2016 Israel had the highest rate of poverty among OECD members, link, and many who make aliyah are in great practical need. Pray for Israel’s needy.
And forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us – a reminder to believers to keep a clear conscience and short accounts with God. We must never forget that we are redeemed through the Lord’s sacrifice, and today He is redeeming his chosen people so they can evangelize the world with His truth. God’s word says that, at the end of this age, “they (Israel) will look to Him (Christ) whom they pierced”. A trickle has started and Jews are now recognising Yeshua as their Messiah, and through Him receive forgiveness.
Do not bring us to the test, but deliver us from evil – a plea to be delivered from temptation and evil. At the end of this age the world will be in spiritual darkness (Isa 60) and demonic forces will seek to destroy Israel. Pray for the protection of Jews in Israel as they experience daily rockets and stabbings.
Prayers for the People and Land of Israel
Jewish Prayers: In his book ‘Prayers for Israel’, Rabbi Yonah Bookstein calls for lovers of Israel to harness the power of prayer to bring peace to Israel and the Middle East. It contains new and ancient prayers based on psalms, sacred writings, and teachings of Hasidic Masters. Note: The Hasidic movement focuses on the joyful observance of Gods commandments, heartfelt prayer and boundless love for God and the world He created.
You might find this serene non-vocal Jewish Prayer good for quiet meditation on God’s word:
Gentile Prayers: In the last days God raises up ‘foreigners’ (Gentiles) to support Israel and to pray for Israel:
The sons of the foreigner … who love the name of the Lord … even them I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer … for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations (Isa 56.6,7)
This is seen for example in The International House of Prayer (IHOPKC) whose primary role is to pray for and partner with Messianic Jews living in Israel, and to pray for God’s purposes in the nation of Israel, link.
Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem
I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone … though all nations of the earth are gathered against it (Zech 12.3)
God places on the heart of Israel’s watchmen what is on His heart. But there are generic areas to pray for. Psalm 122 is all about Jerusalem and in it God instructs man to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. What does this mean? Historically, Jerusalem has been besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times, link. And end time prophecy indicates that Jerusalem will be attacked at least twice more, link. So it is natural to ask God for mercy on Jerusalem and Israel’s people in these last days. There will be great suffering (Jer 30.7).
Daily Suffering: Even during times of relative peace, Israel is under attack as rockets rain down on Israel’s villages and towns, and daily stabbings continue around Jerusalem, link. Pray for the survivors of terror attacks and for those who deal with their psychological damage and scars, link.
Pray against the Demonization of Israel
Susan Michael, Director of International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ), link, says that demonization of Israel
is a particular problem on college campuses and that it is bringing the world to a feverish pitch and causing anti-Semitism. Likening it to the Nazi campaign against Jews, Michael says that it paves a way for military action. If Israel is portrayed in a bad light, it leaves the country in a weak position, in that other countries don’t want to step up in its defense.
So pray against increasing world-wide antisemitism. Be specific in prayer: Spain, France, Poland and Greece tend to be the most anti-Semitic countries in Europe, link. Pray against the various forms of economic warfare waged against Israel, as in the BDS campaign, and for the western churches to realize that Israel is a blessing not a curse, link.
Every 2 minutes a new lie about Israel is spread online
STOP THE HATE
Pray for the Aliyah – Jewish Immigration to Israel
Psalm 122.4 says that one day the tribes of Israel will go up to Jerusalem to give thanks to the Lord. So pray for those wanting to make aliyah to Israel and live there since this too is prophesied:
I will bring your descendants from the east, and gather you from the west; I will say to the north ‘give them up’ (Isa 43.5,6)
Pray for Israel’s Poor
Israel has a technologically advanced market economy with a debt-to-GDP ratio that compares favourably with western democracies, link. Economic growth has exceeded most other OECD countries rates for more than a decade. On the other hand, Israel needs to address productivity, inequality and poverty if it wants to improve well-being and reduce socio-economic divides, according to a recent OECD Economic Survey of Israel, link. Today, Israel is characterised by high poverty and the OECD ranks Israel as the country with the highest rates of poverty among its members, with over 20% of Israelis living under the poverty line, link, link. Those making aliyah and arriving in Israel are also in great need. Pray for those in Israel (Jew and Arab) suffering poverty.
Pray for Israel’s Spiritual Restoration
God’s people are returning to Israel mostly in unbelief – they reject Christ as their Moshiach (‘the anointed one’). But the Bible promises that this ‘spiritual blindness’ will soon be removed (Rom 11.25-27). So pray that the Holy Spirit will move upon them and open their eyes to the true identity of Yeshua, the one Mediator between God and man. Pray for those reaching out to their brothers and sisters (see video). There is an urgency here: many believe that those born again before Christ returns will be taken to be with Christ before the time of Jacobs trouble in Israel, link.
Thank God for Assured Future Blessings on Israel
Psalm 122.5 looks beyond this present age and into the Millennial age when Christ will sit on the throne of David (Lk 1.32) and rule the nations in righteousness from Jerusalem. So pray that the Lord will come quickly to reign from Jerusalem. Pray for the day when “living waters flow from Jerusalem” (Zech 14.8). And be encouraged in your prayers for Jerusalem, since those who pray for the peace of Jerusalem are promised a blessing (Ps 122.6).
Pray for Israel’s Arab Neighbours
Prophecy says that in the Millennial age, people from those nations that attacked Israel will go up from year to year to worship the Lord in Jerusalem (Zech 14.16). More specifically, we read:
“In that day Israel will be the third party with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom the Lord of hosts has blessed, saying, “Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance” (Isa 19.24,25)
In the time that this prophecy was made, Assyria embraced what is now Iraq, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon – all Arabic countries. So God loves the Arabs and reaches out to them today through our prayers. Listen to Christian Arabs praising God (remember, Christian Arabs normally use the term Allah (God) in association with His begotten Son, Yeshua or Jesus). Listen to Christian Arabs singing “Immanuel, Immanuel, God with us”, a reference to Jesus.
Pray for Your Own Nation
Pray that your nation (your government, your universities, your churches …) will have a good relationship with Israel and the Jewish People. Remember that God blesses those who bless Israel (Gen 12.3). Pray that any Israeli goods boycott will be made illegal and that business ties with Israel are strengthened. Pray for your church members and leaders, that they will recognise the important role of Israel in these last days. Pray especially that they will reject the common lie of Replacement Theology.
Be brief, speak clearly, speak from the heart, don’t preach, keep to the current theme, listen to the Spirit. More ….
Send your Specific Prayer Requests
Pray 4 Zion know that God answers prayer. So send them your praise reports and prayer requests. Once a month they also place your prayers on the ‘Wailing Wall’ in Jerusalem, link.
Jewish Voice Ministries International aims to proclaim the Gospel to the Jew first, and also to the Nations (Romans 1:16), and to equip the Church — providing education about the Hebraic roots of Christianity, the Church’s responsibility to Israel and the Jewish People, and how to share Messiah with the Jewish People. Send your praise report or prayer request to JVMI.
The Joshua Fund aims to mobilize Christians to “bless Israel and her neighbours in the name of Jesus”, according to Genesis 12:1-3. They invite believers to join with them to pray over topical and serious issues in Israel and in the countries neighbouring Israel, link
The Messianic Bible invites people to submit prayer requests. You can ask for someone to pray privately for you, or for your prayer request to be shared publicly and or on social media, link
Christians United for Israel (Cufi) offer to hand deliver and place your prayer in the Western Wall in Jerusalem, link.
Prayer Groups Based in Israel
Intercessors for Israel seeks to raise up a prayer army in and for Israel. Their primary calling is to intercede before God on behalf of the people and Land of Israel, and to do their part in the battle to prepare the way for the return of the Lord. The leadership of Intercessors for Israel is comprised of Messianic Jews who live in the Jerusalem area, link.
Jerusalem Prayer Tower welcomes groups from the nations seeking to participate in continual prayer and worship in unity as one new man until Yeshua returns, all Israel is saved, and Jerusalem is a praise in all the Earth. Location: Jaffa Road, Jerusalem, link, link.
Bridges For Peace believe that God has enriched our spiritual life through the Jewish people and that it would be an appropriate response to have Christians meet regularly to pray for Israel and to learn about our Jewish roots. The weekly “Israel Current News Update with Prayer Focus” is sent from Jerusalem by email to anyone who requests it. The International HQ is in Jerusalem, link.
International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) was founded in 1980 as an evangelical response for the need to comfort Zion according to the command of the scripture found in Isaiah 40:1-2. It was literally birthed in prayer in the late 1970s by a group of Christians from some six countries who met regularly to pray for Israel, link.