The Jerusalem Prayer Endeavour took place February 4-12, 2020. This year a smaller team went, which changed the dynamic of the trip. Instead of taking tour busses to move us from place to place, we chose to use public transit, and by divine appointment ended up with a believing taxi driver who transported us to various locations.
The purpose of the trip was:
- To equip and give experience in the area of spiritual warfare. Jerusalem is ground zero for spiritual conflict. As part of the equipping, the team grows in the skills of corporate listening prayer and together discern the various prayer assignments the Lord has for us.
- To introduce people to, and develop existing friendships and partnerships, with messianic believers in the land. Through this, we gain a greater understanding of the challenges Messianic Jews face in making Alijah (the official immigration of Jews to Israel) as well as the daily challenges of living in the land. We can also come alongside to support individuals in prayer, along with their ministries.
- To grow in understanding and participation in the one new humanity (Ephesians 2:14-16) and gain a greater appreciation for how the Lord is aligning the body of Messiah in his purposes for the advancement of the Kingdom of God. In particular, how we move together to see greater unity together in the body (John 17:21).
A Diverse Team
Although we were a small team, we were very diverse. We had four men and four women. Three were from the United Kingdom, and one was a Dutch citizen now living in the UK. Two were from the United States of America with another US citizen who was transitioning from living in Rome to living in South Korea. Of course, there was me in the middle of it all the Canadian (with British intelligence).
With such a mixture of cultures and language, we had many hilarious times trying to understand the different English expressions everyone used. Not only did we have this diversity nationally but also with our religious background. The team included two reformed pastors and a Benedictine Monk.
Power of Unity
While we were in Jerusalem, we stayed at the Christ Church Guesthouse, just inside the walls of the old city by Jaffa gate. This guesthouse and the accompanying church is built on what was probably the site where Jesus encountered Pontius Pilate and was flogged before being led out to be crucified. One of the days, we walked out to the garden of Gethsemane.
We walked along the walls of the old city, past the temple mount and the southern steps, which would have been the main entrance to the temple complex at the time of Jesus, and then we headed down into the Kidron valley and up the other side to the garden.
It was this steep hillside that Jesus would have been forced to walk up, in the dark, with his hands bound, on the night he was arrested. (It was not necessarily a comfortable journey for us, and we had a paved footpath with steps and did it in daylight.)
The garden of Gethsemane, with its ancient olive trees that would have been standing there on the night Jesus was in the garden, stood as witnesses as we gathered to pray together just as the Muslim call to prayer wailed over us. We read in unison the words Jesus prayed in John 17. At times the call to prayer can be very jarring and disturbing (especially to intercessors who are keenly aware of what is happening spiritually). But as we stood in unity together proclaiming the truth of God’s word, we felt strong protection over our time in the garden.
Walking in unity brings a new perspective
Father Greg, the monk in the middle, provided us with a greater understanding of some of the architecture and symbolism which we saw around us in several of the Catholic sites we visited. In particular, he was able to show us around the church of the Holy Sepulchre, explaining the various locations of the stations of the cross as well as other facets of this complex building filled with multiple chapels from different branches of the church, both Catholic and Orthodox.
On previous visits to The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which is physically dark, has also seemed particularly spiritually dark. But as we walked together in unity (we had spent time building unity together in prayer before we had left to visit the church) we were able to “look above” the darkness and see through the symbolism and experience God’s amazing grace. While there was still the awareness of darkness, even the building itself seemed to be physically lighter.
On later reflection, we agreed that in future trips, a visit to the church should precede a trip to the Garden tomb. That way, both would be experienced right after each other. We could experience the sense of what happened to Jesus, through the layout at the Church of the Holy Sepulche and then experience the reality of how it may have looked with the garden setting. It would also bring us together at both what some call the “Catholic site” and the “Protestant site” of the crucifixion.
We had several opportunities to connect with ministry leaders within the land, hear some of the challenges they have and pray for them. These connections are always a huge blessing. Many times, people will visit Israel and expect to be prayed for, or they will pray for the ministries. But it is not often that the individuals get to receive prayer. They were like sponges and soaked it up!
As we started the endeavour this year, we did not have a clear idea about the type of prayer assignments the Lord would have for us. We found that the Lord began to use some of the discernment from the 2019 Jerusalem Prayer Endeavour to inform and direct our prayers. The theme of identity quickly rose to the surface as a possible foundational deception to a stronghold over the Jewish people.
The modern state of Israel was founded in 1948 as a secular state to provide a homeland for the Jewish people. A people who had just gone through the Holocaust. In some ways, this identity as people who have survived the Holocaust has become a national identity. It has replaced the Biblical identity of the nation as the chosen people of God. The result is a state that is profoundly secular and which has lost its connection to its true identity and purpose as the people of God.
At the same time, the influence of the Holocaust is still seen, especially in the number of legal abortions carried out within the land. These abortions are often the result of genetic testing that has discovered abnormalities in the fetus. Those who are “not perfect” may be selected for termination. This selective termination is a twisting of the Nazi Eugenics ideology of Arian perfection that is bound up in the Holocaust.
As a team, we had no authority to pray for this issue. (It would need a group of both Jews and Gentiles together as the one new humanity to step into this battle). Instead, the Lord led us to walk through the Holocaust museum at Yad Vashem prayerfully. As we did, we focussed our attention on the role of the church, and replacement theology ( the idea that the church has replaced the Jews as God’s chosen people, rather than seeing the church as grafted into Israel – as the wild olive branches of Romans 11). As intercessors, it was a tough place to walk through, especially as we walked in representational repentance.
But as always, God provided a picture of hope and grace. The avenue of the righteous from the Nations has trees planted for individuals and communities who sought to protect and hide Jews during World War II. It was especially meaningful to be able to pause in the rain (which in the dry county of Israel is seen as a blessing) to look at the tree commemorating the Ten Boom family of Casper, Betsie and Corrie Ten Boom.
Lord willing, we hope to be able to continue to work of prayer next year with the JPE 2021. (Let me know if you’re interested in being a part.)