Peace, We Pray
As David lamented in Psalm 40, so do we pray today. We wait patiently for You – Prince of Peace. Incline Your ear to the cries of your people in this conflict. Our hearts ache to hear again the tired song of violence and war. We long for humanity to sing a new song, not of bloodshed, but of forever shalom in Yeshua. Together, we pray for peace, Amen.
In light of the recent (October 2023) conflict in Israel, Pastor Barry taught and then answered questions based on Matthew 24’s Mount of Olives sermon, widely known as an Olivet Discourse. In this conflict, be wise with one another. We have written four helpful guidelines where difference may be most apparent
1. Difference in History: Positions are stated from differing points in history. Are we starting with Abraham or the Ottoman Empire?
2. Difference on War: The Bible speaks to five different attitudes on war. An outline of theses positions is found on this page.
3. Difference in Eschatology: There are different eschatological perspectives. In our discourse, Pastor Barry holds and shares from a pre-tribulation understanding.
4. Difference in Theology: Some believe the Christian Church has superseded the nation of Israel. We at Lifecentre honour our brothers/sisters but do not share this theological position.
Our heart is not to debate our differences but to unify, watch, and pray for the peace of Jerusalem, peace in the Middle East.
Watch & Pray
Sam Hailes’, editor of Premier Christianity in the UK, outlines five ways to pray, in times of war and conflict, using the Bible.
1. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem – the Capital of Israel and home to Christians, Muslims, and many international nationalities.
“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. ‘May those who love you be secure. May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels.’” (Psalm 122:6-7)
2. Pray for the protection of innocent civilians. In war, there is always collateral damage. Pray of Israel, Ukraine, Russia, and Palestine.
“A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted because they are no more.” (Matthew 2:18)
3. Pray that evil ideologies will be exposed and gospel truth will prevail. Everyone needs Jesus.
“For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops.” (Luke 12:2-3)
4. Pray for the worldwide church. May God answer the prayers of His people as they intercede for millions of people caught in the midst of war.
“For [Jesus] himself is our peace, who has made the two groups [Jew and Gentile] one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility…His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.” (Ephesians 2:14-16)
5. Pray for Jewish, Palestinian, Ukrainian, Russian and international people to open their hearts to Jesus. For God so loved the world, and His love never fails!
“The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.” (Psalm 9:9)
We partner with FIRM Israel, which partners with local ministries to transform lives in Israel with the love of Jesus. At Fellowship of Israel Related Ministries (FIRM), we believe Israel can make an impact on everyone’s life, and everyone has a role to play in Israel’s story. FIRM is a non-profit based in the heart of Jerusalem who is producing excellent resources for how to pray for Israel, hostages, & Palestinians on their socials.
We partner with ERDO in Ukriane. As you consider God’s heart for you to make a difference, we want to help. We wholeheartedly invite you to consider giving to the following trusted mission partners in Ukraine.
Our heart is not to debate our differences but together to watch & pray for peace on earth, especially where there is war and conflict.
Five Views by Phillip Jensen
Let me begin by briefly outlining five different attitudes to war, because God’s Word has something to say to each.
First there are the doves, the pacifists who are opposed to all war and all violence. We all have sympathy for this position. The biblical image of heaven, after all, is of peace and harmony, where people “will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore” (Isa. 2:4). The Prince of Peace will usher in the time when “the wolf will live with the lamb” (Isa. 11:6). That, however, is exactly what I believe is wrong with the pacifists’ position: It is the wrong timing. We are not in the Garden of Eden, nor yet in the heavenly city. Now is not the time for world peace. We are in the fallen world of human sinfulness, where evil people do dastardly things and where God has given governments authority to administer justice with the sword (Rom. 13:1; 1 Pet. 2:13). Pacifism is a godly mistake in that it fails to take seriously the sinfulness of humans, for monsters do exist and do need stopping. We are all capable of doing real harm to our neighbor and need the constraint of law and order and of good government.
The second attitude is the opposite of the dove: the hawk. By this I mean the person who is always looking for a fight, for controversy and the use of force to get his way. While one can be sympathetic with the godly mistake of the dove, there is little or no sympathy for the man of violence. The Scriptures say, “The Lord … hates the wicked and the one who loves violence” (Ps. 11:5, ESV), and “human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires” (James 1:20). So we are warned: “Do not envy the violent or choose any of their ways. For the Lord detests the perverse but takes the upright into his confidence” (Prov. 3:31-32). Nowhere in the Bible do those who love violence get God’s approval. Those who are pleased, thrilled, and excited about war should look to themselves and repent, for they are out of step with God.
The third and fourth attitudes are neither pacifist nor militaristic. The difference between them is timing.
In Ecclesiastes we read the striking verse, “a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace” (Ecc. 3:8). There is a time for governments to take action, to step into the affairs of the world with punitive force, be it by the police, the judiciary, or the military. There is “a time for war.” But when is the time? Was Neville Chamberlain right in his timing, or too slow to go to war? Was Winston Churchill right or too precipitous? It is a matter of human judgment of the pragmatics and strategy of war. We are not God, and we do not know what to do. “Not yet,” then, is the third position.
Many believe their government acts too quickly and condemn it as immoral and genocidal. But the Bible says we must nonetheless respect those who are appointed over us in government. The first-century Christians were called upon to respect and obey the tyrannical and persecuting Roman government of their day as being appointed by God. It is no less incumbent on us to respect our leaders (Rom. 13:1; 1 Pet. 2:13). And we must not attack the servicemen and servicewomen who, obedient to the duly elected government of the day, are willing to lay down their lives to protect our freedom, including our freedom to dissent from government opinion.
The fourth attitude is that of “at last” we have had to act. Those who hold this position must remember that God is not on one side in war. He is not utterly disinterested, but neither does he identify completely with one side or the other. Wars are ours, not his. Our wars cannot be fought in the name of God. Furthermore, it is worth reminding ourselves to keep listening to others and weighing the costs and benefits of war. For as the Bible teaches, “Surely you need guidance to wage war, and victory is won through many advisers” (Prov. 24:6). And as Jesus said, “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace.” (Luke 14:31-32). In listening to advisers and weighing the options, remember the words of Oliver Cromwell to the Scots just a month before the Battle of Dunbar: “I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.”
And then the fifth and final attitude: the fence. Many of us feel ourselves unable to decide. We do not want to go to war, but we do not want to see tyranny grow. We certainly do not want weapons to proliferate and fall into the hands of terrorists, but then again we do not know the best way to prevent that. Those in this position may not know what to do politically, but they can always pray. Paul tells us to pray for those in government over us “that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (1 Tim. 2:2).
—Phillip Jensen is the dean of Saint Andrews Anglican Cathedral in Sydney, Australia. Adapted from ” Apocalypse Again and Again” by Phillip Jensen, Christianity Today.