Dear Stonegate Family,
As we all know, an incomprehensible act of violence was instigated against the Israeli people by Hamas on October 7, 2023. The sole goal of this cowardly act was to murder civilians. To this end, it is moral and just for Israel to defend their nation and people against terror groups who seek to shed innocent blood. Yet, in this time, we grieve, realizing that there are followers of Jesus both in Israel and Gaza, as well as many innocent civilians who are caught in the middle of the conflict.
Before we outline ways to pray for all that is happening in the Middle East, many of us feel confusion, anger and sadness. These are natural emotions, so don’t dismiss them; surrender them to God in prayer. Romans 12:15 invites us to “weep with those who weep.” Some of us know people who have been directly impacted. Ask the Lord to give you a spirit of empathy for those who are caught up in this tragedy. The human heart was never designed to bear the weight of minute-by-minute news of evil. We must give it to God.
As an example, pray, “God, I give everyone and everything to you. All the pain, evil, sadness, anger, and devastation I give to you. I give you all the people impacted by this.” (Adapted from the One Minute Pause App – find here)
But it does not stop there.
It is good and right for us to pray for peace in Israel and an end to human suffering.
In Psalm 122, King David exhorts:
6 Pray for the well-being (peace) of Jerusalem: “May those who love you be secure; 7 may there be peace within your walls, security within your fortresses.” 8 Because of my brothers and friends, I will say, “May peace be in you.” 9 Because of the house of the Lord our God, I will pursue your prosperity.
As the Church, we realize a much greater battle is happening than we witness on the news. We are watching a spiritual war (Eph 6:12) spill over into the physical world. Thus, we must heed the Spirit’s instruction from James 1:19 to be “quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.”
Instead of engaging in rhetoric, we realize our first call is to engage this battle spiritually through prayer and displays of compassion.
In Matt 6:9-13, Jesus’ disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray. Jesus responds with what has become well-known as the Lord’s prayer. As we engage in this battle, this prayer is an excellent template for knowing God’s heart in difficult situations.
• God, You are our Heavenly Father. You are good and loving. (John 3:16) “You loved the world so much that you gave your One and Only Son that whoever – believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life.” We pray people on both sides of the conflict would come to see You as their good and loving spiritual Father.
• God, You are Holy. We acknowledge that You are sovereign over this world and are completely just in everything You do. We realize that even in times like this, we can trust You completely. You alone can discern men’s hearts and know good versus evil. We pray You will expose what is evil and increase goodness in every way possible.
• Lord, Yours is a kingdom of love, mercy, justice, grace, and peace. We realize that You are working, even amid this terrible situation, to bring both Jews and Palestinians to Your kingdom. Please help us represent Your kingdom well in what we say and how we engage with people during this time.
• We pray that our world leaders seek Your face in this time for wisdom, discernment, and diplomacy to end this conflict consistent with Your heart.
• We pray for Your loving rule and reign to come on earth. Please show Your people how to be generously involved as you continue to build Your kingdom in the Middle East.
• As this war continues, we realize people are suffering. We ask that You meet the physical needs of innocent families and children lacking the most necessities for survival. Please provide opportunities for Your Church to be a part of meeting physical and spiritual needs during these tragic times. If we can personally play a role, show us where and how.
• Protect us, Oh Lord, from arrogance or prejudice against people due to their race or culture. Help us not to hold bitterness against members of any religious affiliation. Instead, help us realize they are people You love and sent Jesus to die for. Never allow us to see people as the enemy. Instead, fill us with gratitude that You have rescued us from our true enemy into Your Kingdom of Light.
• In Psalm 125:4-5, you lead David to pray, “Do good, O Lord, to those who are good, and to those who are upright in their hearts! But those who turn aside to their crooked ways, the Lord will lead away with evildoers!” Father, we pray for deliverance from terror and evil in this world. Protect the upright of heart in this time. Allow those who plot evil to be defeated and destroyed. Yet, in Your mercy, convict men, women, and children of sin, righteousness, and judgment so they may experience Your saving grace even in this time of war. We want to see a significant reversal – what the enemy has meant for evil; You turn for good.
Let’s be quick not to draw simple soundbites from a tragic and complex situation. Remember that we have Christian brothers and sisters from both Israeli and Palestinian backgrounds. So, in showing love for one another, let our words and opinions be few and our prayers be many. May God display his great grace and compassion through his Church at this time so that all men might come to the knowledge of the Gospel and be saved!
Finally, we as a church family, need to be the light of Jesus in a dark world. Wherever we are, in our everyday, we want the life transforming power of Jesus to be evident in our life. As those around us search for answers, we want our lives to point them to the peace and love that only Jesus can provide.
From your Elders at Stonegate Fellowship
Historical, scriptural, and political aspects of the conflict in the Middle East
Biblical stance on the Christian/Israel relationship
Does the Bible Require Christians to Support the Nation of Israel: Truth over Tribe Podcast (50 min – Apple)
Interpreting the current conflict in the Middle East through the lens of end-times prophecy.
This topic is complex and depends on your view of the end-times (the theological term is Eschatology). There are multiple viewpoints depending on your interpretation of scripture. For some, this war seems to point to the end-times and Jesus’ eminent return, while for others, it does not. And someone’s viewpoint on the end-times is not a requirement for biblical salvation. Viewpoints on the end-times are important but not enough to criticize someone who doesn’t share your point of view. There can be unity in the diversity of end-times interpretation. Stonegate does not have an official position or viewpoint on end-times. Preterism, Amillennialism, Dispensationalism are the primary differing interpretations of end-times prophecy, and all of them in various degrees can be scripturally validated.
Regardless of your view on the end times, one thing is certain… it will ultimately end well because Jesus will return and bring His Glory in its fullest. He will reign supreme and make everything right.
Stonegate recently held a workshop on end-times, by Josh Gatewood, that you might find helpful. You can find it here