Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem

August 20, 2017

We are commanded to pray without ceasing. Specifically, the Bible tells us to “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Psalm 122:6a). Jerusalem is a special city before the Lord for it is where the temple was built, and God had said that his eyes and his heart will always be there. Jerusalem, by its name, is supposed to be a peaceful city. However, it has been the centre of conflict and the subject of contentions among many people. Every religious group would like to have a piece of it because everybody believes that it is the Holy City of God, and rightly so. Jerusalem means King (Jeru) of peace (Salem). In Hebrew it is called Yerushalayim which means foundation of peace.

But how do we pray for the peace of Jerusalem? There are four areas that need to be considered when praying for the peace of Jerusalem. The first is that the people need to have peace within themselves. Many of them are agitated and living in anxiety. It is because the whole world always seems to be against them. Even from the beginning, there were efforts to annihilate them. They need to overcome this anxiety by prayer and trust in God. The apostle Paul said, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7).

The next area to consider in praying for the peace of Jerusalem is that the people will have peace with one another. In verse 7 of Psalm 122, the next petition of King David was “May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels.” This implies that there were divisions even among the people living within the walls of Jerusalem. Jesus warned, “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand” (Mark 3:25). It is imperative that there be peace among the people for them to be able to stand strong as a community. They will definitely be stronger together, but divided they will fall.

They also need to have peace with their neighbours. David further admonished the people saying, “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it” (Psalm 34:14).Unless they are able to make peace with their neighbours, it will be impossible for them to fully enjoy their lives. Their hostile neighbours will always be a threat to their lives. The reality is that the moment they step out of their walled city, they need to interact with their neighbours around. Whether they will enjoy or benefit from such interaction or not depends on the relationship that they have with their neighbours. Even the Lord Jesus emphasized the need to be good to neighbours when he said, “But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matt 5:44-45).

Foremost, they need to have peace with God. Regardless of how much effort we make to have peace with ourselves, our brothers and our neighbours, if we have no peace with God it will all be in vain. Only the Lord can give us the peace that passes all understanding. Our peace with the Lord was broken because of the sins we committed. Through the prophet Isaiah, the Lord said, “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear” (Isaiah 59:1-2). It is on this basis that the apostle said, “We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God” (2 Cor. 5:20). Indeed, only through Christ Jesus, the Prince of Peace, can we be reconciled back to God.

The blessing that comes in praying for the peace of Jerusalem was beautifully articulated by King David when he said, “They shall prosper that love thee” (Psalm 122:6b). Therefore, let us continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. In doing so, let us remember that we too need to live in peace. We are often agitated within and have no peace. We are also challenged not only in our relationship with our own brothers and sisters, but with our neighbours as well. Above all, we need to be reconciled back to God through our Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul said, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1).  Jesus is the Prince of Peace. Hallelujah!