Israel, Palestine and difficult prayers

Many of us have watched and read with concern the tensions between Israel and Gaza over many years.

It's hard to know how to respond to such events, to mourn with those who lose loved ones, to question and to challenge where we feel wrong has been done, to petition and challenge for change on both sides. 

But how should we pray ?  And can prayers make an impact where politics has failed for generations? 

Some time ago, I heard German theologian Jurgen Moltmann speak in London.  One of his themes was hope.  After the Second World War, many German theologians and Church leaders developed the gospel theme of hope for a nation which was on it's knees.  For Moltmann, it became one of his key themes, with Jesus there is always cause for life giving hope.  

When questioned on this theme, Moltmann argued that "we have seen signs and wonders in our lifetime."  I expected him to then expand on a theme regarding the church or something which would seem 'spiritual',  Instead, he spoke on the miracles of Russia and South Africa.  

"No one would have expected the collapse of the Berlin Wall without bloodshed, yet a miracle happened ....  No one believed change could come to apartheid South Africa without civil war, yet a miracle happened."

Moltmann expressed a simple but incredible prayer ... that as Christians pray together "Your Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven" our conclusion should be that we can have hope for this earth and what we see around us. 

"We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure."

Hebrews 6:19

So how can we pray for Israel, for Gaza and for the Palestine with prayers of hope ? 

* Let's imagine what the end of violence could do?  Let's pray for new restraint within the Government's of Israel and the Palestinian territorities.  Let's pray for the people involved, for the end to bombs, to violent action or to provocation. 

* Let's pray for visionary leadership committed to peace, both in the region and beyond. 

* Let's pray for issues of justice with hope.  For a strong and independent enquiry into the Flotilla incident.  For an ending of the blockade which free's trade to the territory but also safeguards Israel's security. 

* Let's hope for the UN.  The United Nations Human Rights Council voted on 2 June to investigate Monday’s incident. The UN HRC resolution also called on Israel to immediately lift the blockade on Gaza.  Let's pray for the success of these moves, that fresh hope can be found in diplomacy and action through the International community.

* Let's pray for spurs to dialogue and compromise. 

* Let's pray for a new peace movement to emerge, one which forgives and encourages forgiveness in others.

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints

Eph 1:18


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