Millions of people are praying for Israel during Operation Protective Edge. Many, perhaps most, are not Jewish. Their prayers are real, visceral and genuine. But, sincere as they are, there’s a growing sense of disorientation among Israel’s Christian friends, who aren’t clear on what to pray for, or how. The following are some prayer points, principles and perspectives for Christians to keep in mind in heart and in soul when praying with an Israel focus.
(Oh, and before I begin – please forgive me for being a bit more candid than usual. I guess wars have a way of nibbling at our diplomatic defenses.)
Pray With Israel – The operational word here is “with”. If your prayers are about standing with Israel, through thick and thin, in times of joy and in times of sorrow, at seasons of peace and during seasons of war, then the guidelines in this list are for you. If, however, you’re interested in praying “for” an Israel that you sympathize with more than you seek to understand, then I’m afraid I can’t really be of much assistance to you.
Focus – Everything is happening at once. The prayer laundry list couldn’t possibly be longer. But as with the very essence of the State of Israel and its biblical, historical and current roles, global impact begins with finite pivots and focal points. It’s important to pray for everything and for everyone (did I say “for” – oops!). No one is more important than the next. Perspective is the key to prayer that will benefit all.
Success – Operation Protective Edge is not a walk in the park. Israel did not begin the current security measures as a knee jerk reaction, and Israel was even more cautious before ground forces were moved back into Gaza. Israelis, all of whom have loved ones serving in the IDF, cringe at the thought of war. And yet, when push comes to shove, Israel will forever defend her civilians. A major prayer thrust must be the success of the current campaign, to restore a sustainable rhythm of everyday life to the rocket ravaged residents of Israel’s southern regions as well as the civilian population across the country (all of whom are within rocket range of Hamas, Hezbollah or both).
Safety – In addition to success in battle, we want our troops to return home safely, of sound body and mind. May each and every soldier be blessed with the courage to sacrifice his life for his people, and the opportunity to return home to thank G-d that he didn’t have to. And let’s not forget the homefront, which doesn’t look all that different from the warfront at times. May every parent and every child be safe from harm, as we give thanks to Israeli brains, American funding and G-d Almighty for the ongoing repetitive miracle known as Iron Dome.
Survival – Survival means different things for different people, and in this case for different populations. It’s important to pray for Israel’s eternal survival, not because we fear any alternative but in celebration of what it means to live the age of Israel’s rebirth as a nation. The Gaza population, however, truly wonders whether they will continue to survive. I believe that part of a prayer focus on Israeli success should involve prayers that only our true adversaries be neutralized, whereas those who seek a life without extremist, internal oppression would be freed from the hatred that binds their society.
Peace Over Tranquility – Many are hoping for a few more years of quiet before “the next round” of conflict, but a decrease in consistent rocket fire is a short-sighted goal. Tranquility is an empty, lifeless lack of war. Peace, on the other hand, is a meaningful, lasting harmony of variant forces coming together to build a better tomorrow. “Shalom” means peace, whole and complete. Shalom is also a reference to G-d’s name. In the long run, success, safety and survival will not be measured on the closing day of the war. They will be measured the day after, and in years and generations to come. True peace is the most comprehensive of all blessings, and it requires a long term commitment on all sides.
The Father – My friend Moshe Kempinski has a general policy of encouraging Christians to direct prayers to The Father when praying in and about Israel. Though I only suggest a similar approach when asked for specific Israel prayer guidance, I believe that under the current circumstances this would be a commendable context for prayer. I trust, of course, that everyone will pray as they feel most comfortable. I just wonder what it would look like if Christians were praying not only “with Israel” but in the same direction as well.
Alas, this is far from an exhaustive list of prayer points and principles. Feel free to add your thoughts and prayers in the comments section below.