Mark D. Roberts


Pray for peace in Jerusalem.
     May all who love this city prosper.

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.

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.

To be sure, the debate about the future of
Jerusalem will continue. And, to be sure, people of goodwill and
genuine faith will often differ, passionately so. But, if we can come
together on our knees to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, not only will
God hear our prayers and act upon them in his wisdom, but also we might
just find a sanctuary of common yearning, a holy place in which to
discuss our ideas with mutual respect and charity.

Do you regularly pray for the peace of Jerusalem? Why or why not? Do
you think it’s possible for people with differing political views to
join together in prayer in a way that is respectful and kind?

PRAYER: First of all, Gracious God,
this psalm reminds me to pray for peace in Jerusalem. And so I do. May
the hostilities in this city cease. May those who live in fear find
genuine comfort. May those in power continually and truly seek your

As an American, I pray especially for the role our nation
plays in the Middle East. Grant our leaders supernatural wisdom so they
might find ways to reduce the conflict in that area and help its people
find true peace and justice.

I must confess, O Lord, that
praying for peace in Jerusalem seems almost foolish. How can a place of
such historic conflict find peace? Yet I pray, not because it makes
sense to me, but because I seek to honor and obey you. Besides, who but
you could bring peace to Jerusalem?

The day will come when you
will bring peace to that city. In the day of the new Jerusalem, you
will dwell among us, and you will wipe away every tear from every eye.
Death, sorrow, crying, and pain will be over. How I long for that day!
May the peace of your kingdom come, on earth, as it is in heaven. Amen.


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