Beliefnet
Prayer, Plain and Simple

A small undersea earthquake struck just the shores of Los Angeles early this morning. It was widely felt in the West Los Angeles area. The U.S. Geological survey registered the 3.6-magnitude temblor at 2:17 a.m. PDT Monday. It was centered about four miles west of Redondo Beach at a depth of 8 miles.

I grew up in California and earthquakes were a regular event in my life. Still, as familiar as they became, they still never ceased to send a jolt of fear through me.  Several million people are stressed and on edge this morning I’m sure. Let’s pray a blessing of peace for the people of Southern California. Let’s also pray for peace in the seams of the planet, the geographic rifts where the platelets of the earth come together.

“God, the earth is yours. You have made this planet and you own and steward it your own powerful hand. We pray and ask for peace today following the earthquake in Los Angeles. We ask that you would ease the stress and fear in the millions of people who were awakened by the tremor last night. May they give their fears to you, and may you give them supernatural rest in return. We also pray that you would ease any tension building in the earth itself. We know that faultlines do build up pressure and that earthquakes are a natural result. But we ask that by your grace you would bring small releases of these pressures and that shifts in the rifts would be gentle and not destructive. May your peace dominate today, in the hearts of human beings and in the heart of the earth itself! Asyou said, Jesus when you were on the planet… ‘Peace, be Still!'”

Yes, God cares about the Palestinians, but the land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people. Defying this reality has turned the Middle East into a powder keg with Turkey, Iran, and the Palestinians playing with matches.

The Israeli navy this morning boarded another ship, the Rachel Corrie in the waters off the coast of Israel.  The Rachel Corrie is another vessel in a “strategic” convoy sailing toward Gaza attempting to break the blockade Israel established to defend its ports. Israeli troops searched the vessel for smuggled weapons and in the process confiscated cameras and cell phones from “activists” aligned with the Free Gaza Movement.  Unlike the tragic encounter earlier this week, this confrontation did not turn violent. The ship was released and is expected to dock in Ashdod sometime today. The activists will then be allowed to catch flights to their respective homelands.  

At stake: will Israel – and yes, the rest of the civilized world – tolerate an Iranian outpost on the Mediterranean? For months Palestinians have been smuggling weapons from Iran through Turkey into Gaza, and stockpiling them there for future conflicts with Israel. After making repeated pleas for help to Europe and the United States – to no avail – Israel set this naval blockade. They do allow humanitarian supplies and construction materials to enter the ports.

The Palestinians have now turned to a battlefield of public opinion in their effort to “drive Israel into the sea.” Realizing they can’t defeat the Israelis militarily, they have resorted to street-protest tactics.  They set a trap with their Turkish flotilla filled with teddy bears and diapers and wheelchairs and on video the battle – started by the protesters – looks as one-sided as the protesters intended. The net result: the “world” has judged the matter on appearance, not intent. Now the enemies of Israel are more than one step closer to separating Israel from he strongest ally, the United Statesl. And Turkey, a onetime ally of both, now an Islamist-leaning state is running cover for Iran and the Palestinians.

This is the crisis behind the crises: What will the world do and not do about Iran’s nuclear weapons program, its stated intent to destroy Israel, its mounting aggression in the region, and its defiance of Western democracies? Obama’s empty promises to stop Iran’s aggression through diplomacy and sanctions have failed miserably. Now Israel is poised to deal with the threat directly and if need be alone. The powderkeg…

These conflicts are ancient and more than ethnic, economic, cultural, and territorial. The isse is spiritual and goes back thousands of years. Some believe the matters have all been sealed in the pages of Biblical prophecy. Perhaps. But prophecy was never given by God as fatalism. God doesn’t “say what will be” so that we can sit on our hands and let it all play out. Instead, he shoes us the future and then invites us, even commands us to to engage him with acts of justice and righteousness, passionate compassion, and most of all prayer. our actions can mold history. And prayer above all is our boldest and most powerful tool!

Where diplomacy fall short, we pray. Where blockades and raids, and PR moves and finally bullets and bombs fail, we pray. Today, again we pray for peace in the Middle East, for an embrace by the world of the divine right of the Jews to steward the land of Israel, and finally for Messiah to come… As the Jews say, for the first time; as the Christians say, for the second! In His Name…

“God, we pray again for peace in the Middle East. We pray for words of peace to have power. We pray for calm heads and hearts, for truth to be told, and deception to fail. We pray for what only you can bring – a miracle of established and settled Peace! In the name of Messiah…”

Yet again the world’s attention turns to the thin strip of fertile land bridging Africa, Europe and Asia, to Israel, tucked tightly between the Arabian Desert and the Mediterranean Sea. Everyone wants control of Israel! Yes, God knew exactly what he was doing making this part of the planet the center of his work and will in history.  His story in Israel continues still, which reminds us again to pray continually for the “Peace of Jerusalem”…  “Shalom!”  

The latest crisis exploded with the Gaza flotilla raid on May 31st. This incident began when the Israeli navy seized an aid flotilla of six ships carrying humanitarian supplies and 663 activists from 37 nations, known as “Gaza Freedom Flotilla.” Activists aboard the ship intended to break through the Egyptian blockage which Israel established to keep weapons out of the Palestinian territory. The Israeli government routinely inspects shipments coming into Gaza. They do permit humanitarian organizations to deliver non-military items to pass through.  In this case Israeli forces halted and boarded the lead ship of the flotilla when its captain refused to halt or change its course toward the port of Ashdod.

At least ten persons aboard the MV Mavi Marmara, the lead ship of the convoy, were killed by Israeli soldiers. Up to 60 activists and 10 Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers were wounded. The clash turned violent when Israeli soldiers, carrying non-lethal paintball guns were attacked by baseball bats as they boarded the boat

Reactions from around the world have been swift and polarized. Those inclined to support Israel see the act as justified self-defense.  (Videos shot and posted on the internet seem to support that claim). Those predisposed to oppose Israel’s right to exist see it as a provocation.

“Lord God of Israel – and of the whole world – we again pray for the peace of Jerusalem. We ask, “Shalom!” You have created this land of Israel as a special place, the very center of your redemptive work in history. We pray that you would once again demonstrate your grace and power and mercy in this place, and with and for all the citizens of this sacred land. We pray for the Jewish people who have inherited Israel by a covenant promise given by you to their ancestors. We pray for strength and courage and protection for those Jews living in Israel as well as for those scattered around the world. We pray too for the Palestinian people living as resident aliens in the Israel. Help them to find security and prosperity, and finally to come to accept and even embrace the divine right of Israel’s stewardship of this land. Peace will come only when the whole world recognizes Israel’s God-destined place as caretaker of this land. God, acknowledging this, we ask for grace and rest and Shalom peace for the Israel. Bring your Kingdom to the earth, and may that ruler of peace grow outward from Jerusalem! In the name of Jesus, the Messiah!”

“Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.” Psalm 46:2.

Amazed!

Sinkhole.jpg

This huge crater in Guatemala City formed after flood waters of tropical storm Agatha eroded soil hundreds of feet underground. The cavern swallowed a three story building which has disappeared without a trace into the bowels of the earth.

The death toll from Tropical Storm Agatha is growing, with 123 reported killed in Guatemala, 17 in Honduras and nine in El Salvador. Another 90 people are missing in Guatemala and another 69 have been injured.

Let’s pray for Guatemala as it deals with Agatha and also the effects of the Pacaya volcano, which erupted Thursday night.

“God, we ask for your blessing of peace and protection for the people of Guatemala as they deal with the impact of two natural disasters. Stand with those who have suffered the impact of the storm. Give them strength and health. Comfort those who have lost loved ones and those who have lost homes. Stand too with those who have endured the violence of the volcano. Protect them from further harm. Bless and give wisdom to officials who are helping in these emergencies. You do not cause these catastrophes, but you can always make something beneficial out of the pain. God, bless Guatemala. In Jesus name…”