What does it mean to pray for the peace of Jerusalem? FIRM Founder Dr. Wayne Hilsden shares great insight regarding this Bible command from his life experience.
Guided by the King of Israel
My wife Ann and I left Canada in 1983, moved to Israel, and cofounded a congregation called King of Kings. Six years ago, we founded a ministry called the Fellowship of Israel Related Ministries (FIRM). Today, FIRM shares offices on the 14th floor of a building in central Jerusalem with the Summit – a place for prayer and intercession.
From our windows, we can see almost the entire city – looking west, we can see the Parliament of Israel (the Knesset), the Supreme Court and other governmental institutions. Turning east, we see the old city of Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives.
A Reason to Get Involved
Many times, we pray not knowing for sure that we are praying according to the will of God. But when it comes to praying for Israel’s salvation, we should have no doubt concerning God’s will. For it is God’s will that all Israel be saved, as Paul revealed in Romans 11:26 and 27:
“And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:
“The Deliverer will come out of Zion,
And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;
For this is My covenant with them,
When I take away their sins.”
And this is what Psalm 122:6 says:
“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. May they prosper who love you.”
Today I’m inviting you to put this verse into practice not just because it is about my hometown. Let me give you a number of good reasons to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem
First, if God tells us to do something, we better do it. Jesus said in John 14:23: “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word.” And in Luke 11:28: “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and do it!”
Secondly, I’m encouraging believers to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, because it’s the only city on earth where God has placed His name forever. God has attached his name – His very reputation – to Jerusalem. If Jerusalem is an epicenter of violence and war, if it’s divided, it does not reflect well on His name.
But what if Jerusalem becomes a city where peace reigns? When shalom and wholeness and health is evident in Jerusalem, then it demonstrates God’s supernatural ability to transform human hearts. It confirms that He turns enemies into friends and good neighbors.
And wouldn’t it be a powerful testimony if the 550,000 Jews and 350,000 Arabs who live in Jerusalem proper could dwell in shalom?
Praying for the Return of the King
When the citizens of Jerusalem come to know the Prince of Peace as their personal savior and invite Him to come back to their city, then Jesus will return to Jerusalem. From Jerusalem He will rule and reign over all the earth. Did you know that? In Matthew 23, at the end of that chapter, we read:
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’(Barucha haba b’shem Adonai). (Matt. 23: 37-39)
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. As unusual as it sounds, that phrase in both modern and ancient Hebrew means “Welcome!”. If you come and visit us at our home in Jerusalem, we’re going to say to you as you come to our door: “Baruch Haba!”
Welcome Him Back!
Jesus said to the Jewish leaders in His day that they would not see Him again until they welcome Him back to Jerusalem.
I look forward to my Savior’s return to this earth. There will be no more crying, no more sickness, no more suffering, no more death. And there will be eternal joy in the presence of the Lord. Do you long for that day? Because He is coming again — but He’s waiting for the people of Jerusalem to confess that He is their only Messiah and Savior.
So, when you pray for the peace of Jerusalem, pray that our Prince of Peace will reveal Himself in the hearts of His own brothers and sisters— the Jewish people. In doing so, you are hastening the day of the Lord’s return.
But before we can pray effectively for Israel’s restoration, we need to carry a burden for Israel. And what kind of a burden is that? It is a burden of sorrow and grief for Israel and the Jewish people.
Can God be grieved?
“I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh…” (Romans 9:1-4)
Paul confesses his feelings concerning Israel, saying his heart is grieved. There is a popular kind of preaching that says, believers ought to always walk in joy. But that’s not what we find in the Bible. Even God carried a burden of grief for Israel. And we’re supposed to emulate the character of God, aren’t we?
“For forty years I was grieved with that generation, and said, ‘It is a people who go astray in their hearts, And they do not know My ways.” (Psalm 95:10)
And Yeshua also carried a burden of sorrow and grief for the Jewish people:
“Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.” (Luke 19:41-42)
Israel’s Access to God
The fact that Israel remains in an unrestored state must never be taken lightly. The reality of Israel’s spiritual exile must become our burden. But there are Christian supporters of Israel who walk around too light-heartedly – too unburdened. They have a romantic and grossly unrealistic view of Israel, as if being Jewish in and of itself meant they are closer to God.
“Surely their daily prayers in the synagogue must mean something!” they think. Their proximity to the Western Wall, their ability to speak Hebrew, the language of the Bible… Surely that means they have some unique access to God.
But in Paul’s day, the Pharisees, the forerunners of today’s orthodox Jews, were just as pious then as they are now. Yet, this didn’t lessen Paul’s heavy burden of “great sorrow and continual grief.” For he knew that their piety was no guarantee of their salvation. Paul says concerning the religious:
“For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they, being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.” (Romans 10:2-3)
Peace, Victory and Praise
So now is not the time for triumphalism as if the Jewish people were restored now that they are in the Promised Land. It’s too soon to wave the victory flag. The greatest battle of the Jewish people is yet to come. It is the battle for truth and faith. A battle that Israel will win this time through surrender – surrender to God and to His Son.
I believe that God is restoring Zion in our day—the literal physical land of Israel and the city of Jerusalem. He is putting it back into the hands of his covenant people. But I believe is still premature to be triumphalist. I believe we need to become increasingly burdened.
But it is not enough to “feel bad” for Israel’s current unrestored situation. Israel’s greatest battle is a battle for the mind, so prayer for Israel is not an option. It is a command.
“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.” (Isaiah 62:6-7) And Jerusalem cannot become a praise in the earth until its citizens become a people of praise. And they cannot become a people of praise until they praise Yeshua their Messiah.
Battling for Peace of Jerusalem
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. And peace is not merely the absence of war. Real peace, complete peace is peace with God. And we ‘battle’ for peace – in prayer.
Our prayer for the Jewish people must be something ongoing and it needs to outgrow our public meetings and private devotional life. As Isaiah 62 says, we are to give God “no rest till He established and till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.”
It is time to increase your love measure for Jerusalem. And the best way you can love Jerusalem and its inhabitants is by praying for us. I hope you’ll continue to pray for us as we share the good news – the gospel of peace — to a city that so desperately needs it. It is the only peace that will last – the peace of the Messiah.
This article originally appeared on FIRM, October 21, 2021, and reposted with permission.