Thursday, September 10, 2015


Jerusalem and Prayer

Mark Roberts:
It seems sadly ironic that Psalm 122:6 is still just as relevant today as it was when it was written about three millennia ago. If anything, the peace of Jerusalem is even more fragile and more essential to the well-being of the world than it was when David first composed the simple instruction: “Pray for peace in Jerusalem” (122:6). What happens in Jerusalem impacts not just that city and its surroundings, not only the people who have a claim upon it, not only the major religions who consider it holy, but also the peace of the whole Middle East and therefore the whole world.

Almost inevitably, contemporary exhortations to pray for the peace of Jerusalem come laden with political theories about how this ought to happen. Because people differ so profoundly about what should happen in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, prayers for the peace of Jerusalem often create conflict among potential intercessors. Over the years, I’ve found myself in contexts where praying for Jerusalem implied a strong pro-Israeli approach. And I’ve found myself in situations where prayers for Jerusalem take on a distinctively pro-Palestinian flavor.

All of us are entitled to our opinions about what ought to happen in Jerusalem and the Middle East. But it seems that praying for the peace of Jerusalem should allow us to find common ground, relationally and spiritually, even if not politically and strategically. You and I can have strongly held and diametrically opposed views about Middle East policy. But when we come together to pray, we come on our knees. In humility, we acknowledge God’s ultimate sovereignty and wisdom. We surrender to God our agendas, our hopes, our biases, our prejudices. For a moment, we acknowledge the possibility that our personal perspectives just might be wrong. We bring to God our longing for true peace, a peace that necessarily includes justice for all peoples.


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