By Hal Lindsey
Reports from Israel this week reminded me of a place in scripture where God Himself makes a prayer request. Psalms 122:6 says, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.”
Jerusalem’s i24 News reported on April 27th, “At least 40 rockets have been fired into Israel by Palestinian terrorists from the Gaza Strip over the weekend, marking the most dramatic escalation in tensions between the two sides in months.” At the same time, Iran continues its series of assaults on Israel, mostly using proxies in Syria and Lebanon. Over the weekend, Iran showed off more of its massive and growing fleet of drones to be used in kamikaze style attacks.
In the middle of these dangers, Israel has struggled to elect a government. In each of the last four elections, Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party received the most votes. But in their parliamentary form of government, the vote splits between many parties. Prime Minister Netanyahu keeps finding it impossible to assemble enough willing partners to form a governing coalition. He has remained in charge, but the uncertainty weakens the nation in a difficult time.
Praying for Jerusalem has always made sense, but especially now. That raises an important question. Why would God give a prayer request? If He’s telling us about it, then He clearly knows the need. Why doesn’t He just do the thing He is telling us to ask Him for? Why loop us in? If you follow that line of reasoning, you’ll soon ask why we should ever pray. In Matthew 6:8, Jesus said, “Your Father knows what you need, before you ask Him.”
Yet clearly the Bible teaches us to pray. Philippians 4:6 in the New Living Translation says, “Pray about everything.” In Jeremiah 33:3, God makes it crystal clear. “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “Pray without ceasing.” Colossians 4:2 says, “Devote yourselves to prayer.” Ephesians 6:18 says, “Pray at all times in the Spirit.” According to Luke 18:1, Jesus taught His disciples that “at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart.”
Why pray? Pray so that God “will tell you great and mighty things.” Pray so that you will “not lose heart.” Most of all, pray because God says to pray. You don’t have to understand how something works to know and trust that it will. You don’t have to be an engineer or a mechanic to drive a car. You don’t have to be an electrician to flip on a light switch.
But on the question of why pray when God already knows the need, there seems to be an obvious answer. He wants to include us in the conversation. He wants us to be part of His plan.
Also, prayer shapes us. The instruction in Philippians 4:6, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything,” covers a lot of territory. Should you pray about a baseball game? If you’re tempted to worry about it, then you should pray about it. The beauty of such prayer is that it will change your attitude about the game. Taking matters before God — even seemingly trivial things — changes your priorities. In the light of His presence, you’ll begin to see what’s really important. You will find yourself praying for everyone’s safety — your team and the other team. You’ll pray that the Lord’s name will be honored, and His word go forth. You will pray for the opposing side as heartily as you pray for your own. Prayer will change things on the field. More important, it will change the tenor of your heart. Prayer helps sync your will with His will.
And so it is with prayer for Jerusalem. You do it out of obedience, but then you will find yourself doing it because your heart has changed. As you pray, you will begin to sense God’s heart for Jerusalem, her people, and His plan for the world. That plan in many ways centers on Jerusalem. God wants you to be a part of His great plan for the ages. Praying for Jerusalem brings you into His inner circle.