Praying at the Heart of God
Yael Eckstein | August 27, 2019
My father’s family lived in Jerusalem for the past ten generations. However, this was a rare exception to the Jewish people’s long history of displacement and exile.
After the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed nearly 2,000 years ago, Jews fled their Holy Land and were forced to wander, moving from country to country to escape persecution and genocide.
People wonder how the Jews managed to keep their faith and remain a nation amid unthinkable circumstances, while they were scattered to “the four corners of the earth.” How could such a people survive, remain united, and still cling to the hope of return?
The answer is Jerusalem.
No matter where Jews are around the world, we pray towards Jerusalem. Jewish people pray daily to return to Jerusalem, and we conclude the High Holy Days observance with the declaration: “Next year in Jerusalem!” In the Hebrew Bible, Jerusalem is mentioned almost 800 times. In Psalm 137:5, we vowed, “If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill.” We promised never to forget Jerusalem – and we never did.
The Jews were able to remain united through the promise of Jerusalem, the heart of our people. Although we were forcibly separated physically, our spiritual ties to Jerusalem were never severed. No nation in the history of the world has ever returned to their homeland after being exiled for thousands of years, yet the Jewish people never gave up. We prayed as one to return to Jerusalem, and praise God, we did.
In 1948, after Israel’s War of Independence, the Jewish people were officially reunited with the land of Israel, the body of our people. However, it was not until 1967, during the Six-Day War, that we were reunited with Jerusalem, our nation’s heart. Finally, we were able to return to the Western Wall – the closest site to the Temple Mount, where the Temple once stood, and the most sacred site where Jews are able to pray today. To pray at the Western Wall is to pray close to God’s heart.
I have personally witnessed miracles that resulted from praying at the Western Wall, both for individuals and for nations. While we believe that God hears our prayers no matter where we are, we also believe that some places are more conducive to prayer than others. This is why, when Christians come to Israel, they visit the Garden of Gethsemane and the Mount of Olives. There are places where the energy is different, where we are different, and our prayers are different and more powerful.
During the month of August, The Fellowship will once again bring your prayers to the Western Wall, (in Hebrew, the Kotel). It is such an honor and privilege to do so. The partnership between Christians and Jews is a prayerful one. I know that Christians around the world pray for Israel, and we at The Fellowship are so grateful to be able to return this blessing by praying at the Western Wall for our Christian and Jewish friends. Jewish tradition teaches that when we pray for each other our prayers are more powerful and beloved to God. These prayers go straight to His heart.
Friends, please continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and may God bring you peace and comfort in return. And please submit your prayer today, so that we may bless you in prayer at the holiest of holy sites.