Because the Jewish people are a “special treasure” to God.
God calls the Jewish people His “special treasure” (Deuteronomy 7:6), His “portion,” and “the apple of His eye” (Deuteronomy 32:9-10). Israel is even called God’s “wife” (Hosea 2:19) and “bride” (Isaiah 62:5) with whom He has entered a marriage-like covenant (Ezekiel 16:8-14). This same picture of covenantal love is echoed in the New Testament when Paul argues that all of Israel—even those who do not believe in Jesus—are “beloved” of God and continue to possess an on-going, irrevocable calling (Romans 11:28-29).
Because the Bible tells me so.
The Prophet Isaiah wrote plainly,“You who call on the Lord shall take no rest for yourselves, nor give Him any rest until He establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of all the earth” (Isaiah 62:7). And David is just as direct in the Psalms: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! May those who love you prosper” (Psalm 122:6). The Hebrew word used here for “pray” (שאלוor sha’alu) is in the imperative form, much like a command, directing every believer to engage. These exhortations were not just “for then” but continue to be “for now,” too!
Because you will be blessed.
When God first covenanted with Abraham and his descendants, He expanded the blessing saying: “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you; and all the families of the earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:3). Israel is therefore at the center of God’s divine plan to reach the world—a blessing for “those who love” but a curse for those who hate. Joel 3:1-2 goes even further by prophesying that God will one day judge all nations “on account of My people, My heritage Israel.” The final standard of judgment for every Gentile nation will be whether they bless or curse Israel.
What to Pray?
Pray for peace.
In Psalm 122, mentioned above, we see the simplest way to start our prayers: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels. For the sake of my relatives and friends I will say, ‘Peace be within you.’" (Psalm 122:6-8). It might seem basic or cliché, but this is the best gift God could give all citizens (Jew and Arab) of Israel.
Pray for relationships.
Genesis records how the Jewish people descended from Isaac, and the Arab people from Ishmael (Genesis 25:12-18). In God's Father heart is a deep desire to restore loving relationship to these two "brothers." Isaiah 19 also prophesies the day when there will be a “highway” in Israel, when the Arab nations to the north and south of Israel will come together in unity to worship the God of Israel. Join with God to pray and prophesy a restored relationship between Jewish and Arab people.
Pray for forgiveness.
Modern Israel is far from being a "holy land" in its behavior before the Lord. The same kinds of sin befalling all modern nations—abortion, abuse, injustice,and sexual immorality—also exist in Israel today. In Ezekiel 36, just before God promises to bring the Jewish people back to the Land of Israel, He says: "I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you" (Ezekiel 36:25-26). Join with this promise in praying for forgiveness and repentance in Israel.
Pray for leadership.
Israel has always had strong national and political leaders. But very few have been dedicated to a life that follows the instructions of the God of Israel. As these leaders represent a diverse Israeli society of Jews, Arabs (Christian and Muslim), and other minorities, pray that they would lead with righteousness. Pray the words of Proverbs 21:1, “The king’s heart is like a stream of water directed by the Lord; He guides it wherever He pleases.”
Pray for influence.
God told the Jewish people: “I will give you as a light to the nations, that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6). Israel's "irrevocable calling" (Romans 11:29) is to lead the Nations into a knowledge of the God of Israel. Pray that Israel would mature in her calling to lead the nations into righteous, biblical paths.
Pray for provision.
It is said that when Israel was reborn in 1948, there were only six Messianic Jewish families in Israel. Today, there are an estimated 20,000-25,000 Jewish followers of Jesus in Israel! Though miraculous, this small community suffers frequent persecution, discrediting, and discrimination in Israeli society. Pray that God would provide for every need for these individuals, congregations, and ministries, and that He would protect them and their families from injustice.
Pray for rediscovery.
For almost 2,000 years, the global Church has devalued and disregarded Jewish identity. But in the wake of the Holocaust and the rebirth of Israel in 1948, the Church has been rediscovering her Jewish foundations. Pray that more churches and pastors would return to a love for the Jewish people. Pray that they would uproot any replacement theology in their congregations. Pray that they would welcome and affirm Jewish believers in Jesus, modeling Paul's vision for the "one new man" in Ephesians 2:15.
When to Pray?
At Gateway Church, Pastor Robert Morris has frequently urged us to pray for the church every day, teaching how the Bible calls believers to pray “day and night” (Isaiah 62:6). It doesn't have to be complex, but a daily prayer for Israel is powerful. And it is also a daily reminder to our hearts to be concerned for the Jewish people.
Pray on Jewish holidays.
Many Christians have learned to celebrate Shabbat (Sabbath) in connection with the Jewish community around the world, starting at sundown on Friday evening. Before you eat, simply pray for all Jewish people who are dedicating themselves to the Lord for Shabbat. Pray, also, during Jewish holidays throughout the year (Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Passover, etc.). Locate these dates and set quick calendar reminders throughout the year. These are all specific days where Jewish people present themselves before the Lord and are excellent times to pray for God's love to fill Jewish hearts.
According to a Barna study we commissioned, 63% of Protestant senior pastors pray for Israel "never or less than once per month." Wow. If you're a pastor or leader, take your prayers for the Jewish people public, and make it a priority to pray for Israel regularly from the stage. Model to your congregation the "why, what, and when" to pray for Israel.