". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


U.S. Churches Stand with Israel: ‘If Ever There Was a Time to Pray, It Is Now’

May 21, 2024

On Sunday, May 19, roughly 1,000 churches came together to pray for the people and state of Israel. Several congregations across the country heard passionate sermons on why the church needs to stand with Israel and intercede on its behalf. As Family Research Council President Tony Perkins emphasized at Baton Rouge’s Jefferson Baptist Church, any time people are “standing for truth, there is a battle that rages around.” In other words, “[W]e’re engaged in a spiritual battle” now.

But as Israel battles for its very survival against Hamas terrorists, the Jewish people and state of Israel have been facing other giants, namely, the anti-Semitism booming around the globe. The pro-Palestinian encampments on college campuses have fanned the flames of Jewish hatred. But Israel has also lost support from bodies such as the United Nations, who continue to promote a two-state solution in the face of the Biden administration’s mixed messages. As the world turns its back on Israel, Perkins reminded the churchgoers that “God has revealed His plans and what He will do for Israel” in Scripture. Which begs the question: “What will believers do?” According to FRC’s president, the first step is rooted in prayer.

To kickstart this process, FRC created a 19-point prayer guide, each stemming from a verse in Scripture. Cornerstone Chapel’s Senior Pastor Gary Hamrick, who prayed through the first five prayers on Sunday, said, “[I]f ever there was a time we needed to be praying, it is now.” In his lifetime, he added, “I’ve never seen so much anti-Semitism in our world as we’re seeing.” He referenced how certain protests have seen anti-Israel crowds cheering, “I am Hamas.” Hamrick lamented, “[T]his is purely evil and anti-Semitic. It is just demonic to align yourself with a terrorist organization that delights in the killing and butchering and beheading of babies and the raping of women.” He urged, “[T]hese are the days in which we are living, and it calls for prayer.”

In California, Calvary Chapel Chino Hill’s Senior Pastor Jack Hibbs also prayed for peace in Israel and “an end to this violence.” The prayers offered from pastors and churches across America were noticed and appreciated by Israeli leaders. In a letter, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his gratitude:

“Dear Friends of Zion, I thank you all for pledging your unwavering support for the State of Israel and the Jewish people at this critical time. I am particularly grateful to our many Christian friends who pray for Israel and stand with us against the wave of antisemitism in capital cities and on campuses across the U.S. … Your stance today for Israel is also a stance for America. When you pray today, you are praying for America and the common Judeo-Christian values we hold dear. Israel’s war with Hamas is a war between civilization and barbarism. With God’s help, and the courage of our brave soldiers, we will prevail.”

The significance of praying for Israel, David Closson, FRC’s director of the Center for Biblical Worldview, commented to The Washington Stand, comes from God Himself. We pray because “God’s Word commands us to pray.” He explained how, during the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6, Jesus tells us how to pray. “[T]he assumption,” Closson added, “is that you’re praying and He’s providing guidance.”

There are multiple passages in Scripture, Closson noted, that call us to prayer, such as Romans 12:12, Ephesians 6:18, Philippians 4:6, and 1 Thessalonians 5:17. “So, Christians are called to be people of prayer. And I think a good theology of prayer informs how we think about world events. And … as Christians, we’re called to be aware of what’s going on around us and around the world and in politics and in government, and to be praying into that.” But “why Israel?” he asked.

Regardless of your political or theological background, Closson emphasized the reality that Israel is fighting for its existence. “We know that there’s a massive war … unfolding for the very survival of the state of Israel,” he explained. “It’s an existential threat. That’s what Hamas poses to Israel. And we should be praying. We know that Israel is the only legitimate democracy in the Middle East,” which plays into “why Israel is America’s best friend in the Middle East.” Closson observed that this has been true since “Harry Truman became the first world leader in 1948 to recognize Israel’s right to exist and to establish a nation.”

And so, Closson continued, “We pray because we care about the people who are in harm’s way. We pray for the leaders to make wise decisions, both political and military leaders. And I do think as Christians, there is a special connection to the land of Israel, to the Jewish people.” In addition to praying for the peace of Jerusalem and the war between Israel and Hamas, Christians should also be praying for unity as the body of Christ, he added.

“We wield major influence, and there’s a particular special relationship between the United States and Israel that transcends parties,” Closson concluded. And so, moving forward, the church “should be praying for wisdom, discernment, and that the Biden administration does the right thing” in supporting Israel.

Sarah Holliday is a reporter at The Washington Stand.