I Timothy Prayers for the Middle East
The situation in the Middle East is so complex that often one is not sure just exactly what to pray for. Many well-meaning believers get caught up in one aspect or another of the conflict that they miss the overall picture. Sometimes with misdirected zeal, we can even be found praying contrary to God's will.
I thought it would be good therefore, in the context of interceding for events in the Middle East, to review some basic principles from I Timothy 2:1-5.
1. "I exhort, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks be made for all men. "
The phrase "all men" has to do with the fact that God loves everyone. In the current conflict it also has ethnic implications. Most Christians end up on one side, either praying for only the Jews or only the Arabs. We must pray with a heart of God's goodness to be extended to both peoples.
2. "For kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence."
There is a priority to pray for God's wisdom and integrity to work through the top government leaders. We need to pray for Bush, Sharon, and Abu-Mazen, as well as the various cabinet members. We need to exercise supernatural faith that God's will can be done through them. One of the reasons that there was so much bloodshed immediately after the Aqaba summit was that the guidelines had not been made clear concerning Israel's policy of targeted killing of terrorist leaders, nor the general security responsibilities during the transition, nor the time framework for the dialogue between the new Palestinian government and the terrorist organizations.
Perhaps had we prayed for more wisdom and clearer thinking for the government leaders, the security situation could have been improved.
The government leaders have a "deaconate"-type function (Acts 6) to produce a society with peace and order. The government leaders are not going to solve the spiritual questions. That is our job. Let us not put upon them the exaggerated expectations of bringing about the messianic kingdom. That comes from prayer and evangelism. The role of Bush, Sharon and Abu-Mazen is to limit violence, allow for civil rights and justice, and bring order to the government institutions.
3. "This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our savior, "
More important than land occupation, improved economics, or civil rights is the issue of eternal salvation. While all the political issues of the Middle East have enormous prophetic significance, the number one priority still remains evangelism. (Freedom of religious expression is an issue that cannot be overlooked.) This past year has been the worse ever for both Israelis and Palestinians in all the social issues. On the other hand, the gospel is going forth in a wonderful way.
Let us remember to keep praying and giving for advancement in indigenous evangelism and discipleship for both Israelis and Palestinians.
5. "For as there is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Messiah Yeshua."
With all the religious zeal in the Middle East, even the most dedicated follower of Yeshua can often be swept away from one simple, central factor: there is no peace without the Prince of Peace. Yeshua (Jesus) is the only answer. Much of the current situation is doomed to failure so long as the great majority of Israelis and Palestinians reject Him. The Biblical promises of the land, peace, prosperity etc. will find their total fulfillment only in the Messianic kingdom when He returns.
As the spiritual aspects of the kingdom of God increase in the Middle East, so eventually will the outward blessings in the political and natural realms follow. The current conflicts in the Middle East are not disconnected from the historical and universal rebellion of mankind against God and His Anointed King (Psalm 2:1-7). Submission to Yeshua the Messiah is what will bring the conflicts to an end.