The phrase “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem” used to make me think vaguely of Zionist desires for the restoration of Israel, but that was before I heard Rev. Mark Vander Hart’s sermon “Pray from Love for Peace” based on Psalm 122 (an audio file can be found under 2/13/11 AM here). I encourage you to take a few minutes to listen to this excellent sermon. Rev. Vander Hart beautifully describes how this Psalm is a prayer for all believers who are part of Christ’s church in all places.
Love for the people of Christ’s church permeates Psalm 122, which begins with this joyful call to worship (1-2, ESV):
I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the LORD!”
Our feet have been standing
within your gates, O Jerusalem!
The next three verses praise Jerusalem, which represents a community of Christians:
Jerusalem— built as a city
that is bound firmly together,
to which the tribes go up,
the tribes of the LORD,
as was decreed for Israel,
to give thanks to the name of the LORD.
There thrones for judgment were set,
the thrones of the house of David (3-5, ESV).
Rev. Vander Hart explains that the concept of “shalom” means much more than a simple cessation of war. It encompassespeace, prosperity and total security. It includes “contentment within” and “security without” that enables believers to joyfully go about their calling.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!
“May they be secure who love you!
Peace be within your walls
and security within your towers!”
For my brothers and companions’ sake
I will say, “Peace be within you!”
For the sake of the house of the LORD our God,
I will seek your good (6-9, ESV).
This prayer for peace is not for personal end or selfish goals, but it is for for the good of fellow believers around the world and around us in our own congregation. Rev. Vander Hart points out that no one exits in isolation since our lives are “interwoven into the body of Christ.”
He concludes by pointing out that this prayer includes “speaking” (verse 6) and “seeking” (verse 9): prayer and action. If you pray for the peace of Jersusalem, but you do nothing to promote peace within your community of believers, that prayer is meaningless.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! Pray for fellow believers throughout the world and in your own church family! May God grant us all his shalom!