JERUSALEM, Israel – In Psalm 122, the Bible commands believers to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and one group has taken the lead to increase worldwide prayer for what the Bible calls "the city of the great King."
For the last 19 years, the Eagles Wings organization has mobilized Christians and Jews to fulfill the command of Psalm 122.
Bishop Robert Stearns and the late Pastor Jack Hayford began the Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem, which takes place annually on the first Sunday of October.
Stearns told CBN News,"Pastor Jack Hayford and I sensed this burden from the Lord to call the global body of Christ to remember the centrality of the story of Jerusalem – its past, its present, and its prophetic future. And that the church needs to be aligned in intercession with God's purposes for Jerusalem."
Since its beginning in 2004, the day of prayer has expanded its global reach.
"We have representatives in 172 nations. The material is in 29 languages. There now is a children's curriculum – teaching children the importance of Jerusalem – teaching them why it's central to God's story on earth." Stearns explained. "And just year after year, this year at the event here in Jerusalem, we have close to 50 pastors who've come from 22 nations all over the world to celebrate and pray for the peace of Jerusalem."
That includes Pastor Miles McPherson from Rock Church in San Diego.
"You know, the Bible says to pray for the peace of Israel. May those prosper who love you," McPherson said. "It's a promise that I take serious, more serious now than ever before. Being here in the country and just God's stirring my heart to the reality of his presence and his plan for not only this city, but the world."
David Nekrutman, the Jewish executive director of the Isaiah Project, sees Jerusalem today as a validation of the Bible.
He told us, "This is the absolute certainty that there is a God in the world, not an abstract idea. I think it's harder to be someone like Richard Dawkins, who's an atheist, than to be a believer in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob."
Netkrutman added, "For me to come back after 2,000 years to this country and have Jewish sovereignty again, the only people who ever predicted that were the prophets in our shared scripture. So therefore, by going ahead and connecting to this land, we're saying to the world God's prophecy is still in fulfilment."
Many Israeli leaders see this prayer effort as a blessing to Israel and the Jewish people.
"It strengthens us a lot where we feel it's not only a thing that we know, it's the thing that we feel," explained Dani Dayan, chairman of Israel's Holocaust Memorial, Yad Vashem. "The care, the fraternity of evangelical Christians all over the world with the state of Israel, with the Jewish people And therefore, that contributes a lot to our sense of security, to our determination to continue to fight for the Jewish people's perseverance."
From his vantage point at Yad Vashem, Dayan clearly sees the rise of global anti-Semitism.
"We are not in Germany of the 30s, but the difference between us and the generation of the 1930s is that we have experience. We know it can happen," Dayan stated. "Therefore, we have to solidify, to strengthen Jerusalem, to strengthen the state of Israel, to strengthen the Jewish people in order to prevent a catastrophe like that that we saw 80 years ago from happening again."
This threat is another reason why many say it's a vital time to stand in the gap for Jerusalem.
Rev. Peter Fast from the humanitarian organization Bridges for Peace told CBN News, "There's a lot going on internally in Israel, on the outskirts. Israel is surrounded by neighbors – it's been said they live in a tough neighborhood. The whole world is concentrated on the outcome, what happens in this place."
Fast continued, "Despite the friction, despite the tension that is feeling in this nation, especially with the judicial reform, threats of terrorism, what the neighbors want of this place, what the nations want of this place – you know, it's a politically charged place, but it is a place where the Lord says that he has placed his name."
Sharon Sanders, from Christian Friends of Israel, agreed, and elaborated, "Not only are we commanded to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, but we are actually prayer shields. When you take your station at the wall of prayer for Jerusalem, you're taking a big responsibility that God has called Christians around the world to do, praying the word of God."