A little over one hundred years ago, Israel was an insignificant little country in the province of the Ottoman Empire. If the people who were living at that time were told that in one hundred years in the future, Jerusalem would be the center of world attention and conflict, they would not have been able to believe it. This is just one simple example of the amazing accuracy of biblical prophecy. When God’s timing comes, His word comes into fulfillment.
Over the years, many people have expressed their desire to be praying for Israel, but they have not really known how to pray. In this study article I am going to recommend seven ways you can pray for Israel and the situation in the Middle East.
1. Enter Into God’s Presence With Thanksgiving And Praise
It is always appropriate to begin, not with petitions, but with thanksgiving (see Psalm 100:4). Give the Lord thanks for what He has done, is doing and will continue to do for Israel. God has given us a pattern for this in the words of His prophet in Jeremiah 31:7:
“Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations; Proclaim, give praise, and say, ‘O LORD, save Your people, the remnant of Israel.’”
Notice the five actions the Lord tells us to undertake:
Notice also that prayer comes at the end.
One major continuing theme of our thanksgiving to God should be for His covenant-keeping mercy and faithfulness in restoring Israel. As I understand it, at this time in history the number one priority for God is the restoration of Israel. If the amount of space given in the Bible is any indication, there is chapter after chapter dealing with this theme. Furthermore, Scripture makes it absolutely clear that Jesus will not come back until the Jews have been re-established in Israel.
There is one person in the universe who hates and fears the thought of Jesus’ return more than anything else: Satan. He is sufficiently acquainted with Scripture to know that if he can frustrate 1) the return of the Jews to their land, and 2) the establishment of Jerusalem as their capital city, then Jesus will not come back.
2. Pray For Israel’s Salvation
If you are only going to pray one prayer, the best one is Paul’s prayer in Romans 10, verse 1:
“Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.”
If you are not saved, you are lost. There is no middle ground between these two truths. The most important issue for Jew or Gentile is to be saved. That is why I have certain reservations about all the excitement over what is going on in Israel, with regard to the restoration of the Jewish people. Sometimes, mature Christians begin to think and act as though all that matters is that you are Jewish. It is not! Jews and Gentiles alike all need to be saved.
3. Pray For The Release Of The Holy Spirit Upon Israel
When you are praying for Israel, don’t start by focusing on political issues. God often tolerates situations He doesn’t approve of because He’s waiting for “His own special people” (see Titus 2:11–14). The only power that will accomplish this is the invisible power of the Holy Spirit. Zechariah 4:6 says:
“This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts.”
If it was a question of might or power, God has it all. But might and power—even military power—will not do what needs to be done to change the hearts of men and women. The only agent that can do that is the Holy Spirit. So the primary necessity is not that the Jewish people have their message preached to them, but rather that the Holy Spirit begins to move upon them and turn their hearts back to God.
“Then they will look on Me whom they pierced.” (Zechariah 12:10)
4. Pray For The Harvest Of The Gentiles
Let’s look at Romans 11:25, which says this:
“Blindness [or hardness] in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved.” (NKJV)
Paul is saying that all Israel will not be saved until every Gentile, who has been appointed by God for salvation, has come in. If we are truly concerned for Israel, we have a very important reason to be concerned for the salvation of the Gentiles as well.
5. Pray For Godly Leadership
The next petition I would suggest is that God will raise up leadership in Israel that will do His will—political leadership, military leadership, spiritual leadership— and that He’ll give wisdom to those leaders who are now serving, especially to the Prime Minister.
This also relates to the boundaries of the land. I believe we could well pray for God to restore Israel to the boundaries that He has ordained for them at this time. Here is what Psalm 125, verse 3, declares:
“The scepter of wickedness will not remain over the land allotted to the righteous.” (NIV)
I believe that is a scriptural basis for praying Israel back into God’s program for their ordained inheritance.
6. Stay Within The Parameter Of God’s Word
There is a good deal of praying for the Jews which is sentimental. I don’t think it accomplishes much. Don’t ask God to do something He said He will not do, because you won’t change God.
Let me give you just one example. In Matthew 24:20, Jesus, speaking about a crisis that will develop in Israel, says to His followers:
“Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath...”
That sets very clear parameters. He does not say, “Pray that you won’t have to flee,” because you will have to flee. There are only 2 limitations that you can pray:
- That you may not have to flee in the winter because it would be a great hardship.
- That you may not have to flee on the Sabbath.
So pray and proclaim according to the Scripture and release His promises into the destiny of Israel. For example, we can pray for the Lord to do the following:
- Show His mercy and favor to Israel in this appointed time. (Psalm 102:13)
- Gather Israel, and to keep them as a shepherd keeps His flock. (Jeremiah 31:10)
- Let them all be confounded and turned back that hate Zion. (Psalm 129:5–6)
- Destroy and divide the tongues of those who would incite violence against Israel. (Psalm 55:9)
- Bring the counsel of the nations to nothing, and to make their plans of no effect. (Psalm 33:8-12)
- Give peace to Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6)
- Turn the hearts of the people of Israel to trust in the name of the Lord for deliverance—not in the “chariots and horses” of their military might. (Zechariah 4:6)
7. Confess Any Appropriate Sins
The true intercessor is one who has come to confess sin before the Lord. The perfect pattern of this is Daniel. When Daniel saw that the time for the restoration of his people to Jerusalem had come, he came before the Lord in prayer. Though he was an outstandingly righteous man, he identified himself with the sins of his people. He says in Daniel 9:5:
“We have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments.”
Likewise, we have to identify ourselves with the sins of our family, our inheritance, our culture, our nation. Christians have plenty of sins to confess against the Jews. The Jews have their own sins to confess against the Gentiles. I doubt whether intercession will be fully effective until the problem of unconfessed sin has been dealt with.
Bless and Be Blessed
When it comes to Israel, remember that reluctant prophet, Balaam. He was hired to curse Israel, but under the overruling of God he ended up by blessing Israel more and more. Finally, he says:
“Blessed is he who blesses you, and cursed is he who curses you” (Numbers 24:9)
We have a choice. If you bless Israel God will bless you, if you curse Israel God will curse you. Anti-Semitism automatically brings the curse of God upon an individual, a community, a church, a nation, or a civilization.
I saw the British government emerge from two world wars victorious, but I was actually living in Jerusalem when the British administration took its stand opposing the birth of the state of Israel. Do you know what happened? Israel survived, but the British Empire didn’t. It disintegrated without any obvious political reason. If you want to be blessed, then you have to bless Israel.
(This teaching is taken from Update Message 16 and Derek Prince’s sermon How to Pray for Israel)