Wednesday, September 9, 2009

How to start an Israel Prayer group

Someone from South Africa just emailed me asking for pointers in how to start an Israel Prayer Group. In responding to a question that several have asked about in the last year - and I wish even more would consider - I thought it would be a good topic to share here.

Israel Prayer has been the most faith building prayer group I have ever been associated with.

An annual picnic gathering of Jewish and Palestinian believers in Yeshua in northern Israel - building the bonds of brotherly love.

How to start an Israel Prayer group.

The short version is: Wherever two or three are gathered together in the Name of Yeshua, there He is in the midst!

Israel Prayer groups do not have to have large numbers to make a difference. Anyone with a heart stirred by God to come into agreement with Him over the laborers in His harvest fields (that are white unto harvest) in Israel can do mighty things in the Spirit with the prayer of agreement.

In fact, I have found in 8 years of praying specifically for the Body of believers in Israel that many fewer of God's people understand they are precisely where His priorities really lie in the Land of Israel. As the prophetic proverb goes, "Despise not the day of small beginnings!" We are a type of Gideon's Army sent to prepare the way for a strategic arena of battle: the salvation of "all Israel".

My first Israel prayer team in 2001 started with only five women in a Messianic congregation in Dallas, but we saw mighty things take place. In fact, Israel Prayer has been the most faith building prayer group I have ever been associated with because we actually hear back dynamic answers to prayer - sometimes in just a matter of days or weeks.

Our first year of praying for the Israeli ministries was during a very turbulent period for Israel and the world. We began only a couple of weeks before September 11, 2001. In the aftermath of that horrific Islamist attack on the United States, Israel saw that it was time to move into the Palestinian-held territories to do a 'house cleaning' of bomb factories and other terrorists nests. Israel had been suffering a long and steady string of terrorist bombings against their citizens and it was the perfect time to clean house without reaping massive worldwide condemnation for doing so.

During the Israeli operation, our Israel Prayer team began to get regular reports from a Jewish ministry in Ariel with deep ties to Christian Arabs in the Palestinian territories, David and Leah Ortiz. Many Arab Christians had been arrested by the Palestinians; they were being tortured and some murdered in Palestinian Authority jails.

We were praying for their release as town-by-town the Israelis went in to clear out terrorist nests in the Spring 2002 Operation Defensive Shield. As they did, the IDF also freed what they called "prisoners of conscience" - the Palestinian Arab Christian brothers being held in prison. All the way to the last town, Arab Christians were being freed by the Israeli Defense Forces and we were praying for them all the way. It was so encouraging to our faith to see how God worked in concert with our prayers, and also to see the compassion of Jewish ministries for their Christian Arab brothers.

The next year during my first visit to Israel in 2003, three of us from the Israel Prayer group spontaneously decided one afternoon to visit the Dugit Messianic outreach in Tel Aviv. Inside it "just so happened" that one of the Palestinian Christian men we had been praying for during Operation Defensive Shield was there just hanging out. He was the last man in the last town that the IDF liberated from PA jail because of his Christian faith. The Ortiz prayer requests continually mentioned the plight of "S" and also how much he blessed God and the IDF for rescuing him from his persecutors. In the Dugit shop as "S" shared his testimony with us, we thought: "hmmmm....this sounds really familiar!' Upon return to the U.S. we were able to confirm "S" was the person we had prayed for in 2002. It was a mighty confirmation to us from God that we were on His track in praying for the indigenous believers in Israel.

During the same first year of Israel Prayer we got report after report of Israeli believers who were spared from becoming victims in terror bomb attacks. One young teen got a blinding headache that drove him off his bus one block before the suicide bomber detonated. Several other of the ministry leaders were among the first on the scene of bombings because they were within yards of where the bombers detonated themselves. We saw the mighty hand of God sovereignly protecting the believers.

In all these dramatic things, the Holy Spirit made this point with us: He has a destiny and a Divine Commission on these humble, obscure servants of His laboring among their countrymen in Israel. The Lord bade us to recognize their importance in His eyes to the ultimate salvation of Israel. We were not to dismiss them as a minor determinant or force in what happens to Israel.

As we have gotten to know them as people - through their prayer requests and reports - we have discovered that these are dedicated men and women serving the visions of the Lord for their people and nation. So it is no less encouraging to hear of the wonders God is doing in the ministries, providing needed resources for outreach, giving favor with officials, touching the lives of Israeli Jews and Arabs who have no answers for their lives...but the Lord Yeshua.

It is such a blessing to stand with those brothers and sisters who are doing the work of the Lord in Israel. International politics is one thing, but it is not everything and certainly not even the most important thing. The Lord's heart is for the salvation of Jews and Arabs more than anything else. If the people are saved, will the Lord not arise for the land they live on? One thing most Israel-supporting ministries overlook is the connection to the 10 to 15,000 believers in the Land of Israel. How can God's will for Israel ever be established without making this connection?

So, the first priority in setting up an Israel Prayer Team is to connect with the prayer requests of the Israeli ministries. Each week I send a compilation of prayer requests out - Arrows from Zion are the prayer points in brief, and these are sent with an attachment Weekly Summary of Prayer Requests from Israeli Ministries. The attachment in pdf and word document form, are the actual excerpts from prayer letters that I have received over the previous week from Israeli ministries. We give excerpts to introduce our subscribers to Israeli ministries they do not know and we include contact information for each ministry so subscribers can make direct contact with those they are most drawn to. The Weekly Summary also often include photos which I find helps us to bond more with those we are praying for.

The information given in emailed Israel Prayer Summaries can compromise the safety of the believers if they fall into the wrong hands. The Israeli believers come under much persecution by those who oppose the gospel in Israel. That is why I vet the requests to be on my mailing list and don't post the Weekly Summaries online - just the Arrows from Zion prayer points.

Most Christians are unaware that Jewish believers are being persecuted in Israel. Because traditional religious Jews are generally very gracious to Christians, we often have a hard time accepting they could so despise the Jews who believe Jesus is Israel's Messiah.

There is a lot of denial in the Israel-supporting Christian community on this count and though they mean well, it is a situation that exacerbates the troubles of Jewish believers in Israel. As Christians become aware of their brothers and sisters in Israel, this denial begins to dissolve. We Christians can face the truth about religious persecution of Jewish believers in Jesus without it turning into hatred, but we must face the truth that many of those we have been supporting in Israel are actively opposed to Jewish believers in Yeshua as Messiah.

This reality is something that I need the people who receive this weekly prayer letter to understand and hold as a serious trust not to share the letter with any unbelieving Jews - never, ever. I hope you understand and see the necessity for caution because we want to be a blessing to the Body of Messiah in Israel, so we must be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.

If you are interested in starting an Israel Prayer group I would encourage you to either sign up for the weekly mailing of prayer summaries from Israel by emailing me at or access the Arrows from Zion prayer points on my blog at Israel Prayer Dot Com.

You will be blessed as you pray with the very heart of God for the ministries and believers in Israel.