What does the Bible say about praying for the peace of Jerusalem?
You often hear people say that we, as Christians, should pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Pastors say it all the time, especially those that are of the Charismatic, Pentecostal, Full Gospel, or Word of Faith variety. While it is certainly admirable to want peace anywhere, and the people of Israel deserve peace like anyone else, the real question is whether it is scriptural to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. The second question that comes to mind when addressing the first question is should we pray against prophecy since it is clear from prophecy that Israel is going to be destroyed before the return of the Lord. The two questions are essentially answered with the same scriptures. A few examples are listed below.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. May they prosper that love you. —Psalm 122:6
This scripture is attributed to the time period of King David. King David ruled a mostly unified kingdom from approximately 1010 B.C. until 970 B.C. The prophet Jeremiah provided a prophetic voice during the time of the Babylonian conflict. This started in 609 B.C. under King Jehoiakim. Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, over the course of many years attacked the southern kingdom of Judah and eventually destroyed the city of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. Around 605 B.C. was the first deportation of Jews to Babylon. Daniel and his friends were among those deported. The second deportation was around 597 B.C. and included the prophet Ezekiel. The third and final deportation was around the time the city of Jerusalem was finally destroyed. This occurred in 586 B.C. The prophet Jeremiah was taken against his will to Egypt after the death of Gedaliah.
When you read the book of Jeremiah you read about God’s anger toward the people of Judah (southern kingdom). The people of Israel (northern kingdom) were defeated in 722 B.C. by the Assyrians. Judah was the second part of the divided kingdom, the southern portion that was taken away from King Solomon and his heirs.
On three separate occasions the prophet Jeremiah prayed to God for the peace of Jerusalem and three times God quite specifically told him not to pray for the people anymore. Not to split hairs, but under the circumstances I think you could clearly say that God fully intended that Jeremiah was not to pray for the peace of Jerusalem when He said not to pray for the people. Because, what was about to happen to Judah was prophesied by God —the defeat of Judah and the complete destruction of Jerusalem.
Therefore do not pray for these people. Do not lift up a cry or prayer for them, and do not make intercession with Me; for I will not hear you. —Jeremiah 7:16
Therefore do not pray for these people, or lift up a cry or a prayer for them; for I will not hear them in the time that they cry to me for their trouble. —Jeremiah 11:14
Then the Lord said to me, “Do not pray for these people, for good to come to them.” —Jeremiah 14:11
God clearly did not want Jeremiah to pray for the peace and well-being of Jerusalem because He was getting ready to allow it to be destroyed by the Babylonians. So, the question is, should we pray for the peace of Jerusalem today? If scripture is our guide then the answer is clearly a no! Let’s look at what has been prophesied about the fate of Jerusalem and the nation of Israel before the return of the Lord in Revelation 19:11.
2 Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup that brings dizziness to all the peoples around when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and Jerusalem. —Zechariah 12:2
8 And it shall come to pass in all the land, says the Lord, that two parts shall be cut off and die, but one-third shall be left in it. 9 I will bring the remaining third into the fire; I will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried. They shall call upon My name and I will hear them; I will say, “These are my people and they shall say, the Lord is my God.” —Zechariah 13:8-9
1 Behold, the day of the Lord is coming when your possessions will be divided in your midst. 2 For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, and the houses plundered, and the women raped. Then half of the city will go into captivity and the remainder will not be taken from the city. —Zechariah 14:1-2
21 For then there shall be great suffering, such as not occurred from the beginning of the world until this time, or ever will be. 22 And if those days were not shortened, no one would be saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. —Matthew 24:21-22
If scripture is your guide, then it should be clear that praying for the peace of some place that God has ordained will be destroyed is futile and in opposition to the plan and will of God. Perhaps we should pray that those in Jerusalem and Israel come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and for wisdom for those who belong to the body of Messiah who currently live in Israel. But praying for the peace of Jerusalem at this time is unscriptural.