As the conflict rages on, join your family in the Holy Land in prayer
On Saturday, October 7, fighters from Hamas—the Islamic militant and political organization that governs Gaza, one of the Palestinian territories—swept into Israel. Catching Israeli authorities by surprise, the militants carried out attacks, took more than 150 hostages, murdered civilians (including children) and infiltrated more than 20 towns in Israel.
The violence against innocent people in Israel was horrific, and the reports have only grown more devastating as more details come into clarity.
Gaza is a small strip of land, only about 41 kilometers long and 12 kilometers wide. More than 2 million people live there, and it has been controlled by Hamas since 2007. Hamas, considered by dozens of countries to be a terrorist organization,
does not believe Israel has the right to exist
and has long fought Israel via missiles and armed conflict.
Israel and Egypt established a blockade around Gaza when Hamas took over in 2007—effectively turning the area into an “open air prison,”
according to some human rights groups. About 80 percent of Gaza’s population depends on aid because of the restrictions on travel in or out of the area. Even before the current violence, life was very difficult for many people in the Gaza Strip.
Israel is responding to the violence from Gaza with military action, and the conflict is ongoing. Already, more than 1,000 Palestinians have been killed in bombardments, along with the more than 1,300 Israelis killed by Hamas militants. The world waits to see what the impact will be, as some observers worry the conflict could spread.
What hasn’t been discussed in the news as much is how the Christian community is responding in both Israel and the Palestinian territories. Our local partners tell us that Gaza is home to more than 1,000 believers and of course there are Christians in Israel, both Messianic Jews and non-Jewish background believers. In the midst of the violence between Israel and Gaza, both Palestinian and Israeli Christians are asking their brothers and sisters around the world to pray.
Our partners on the ground sent us these prayer requests. As the conflict rages on, please stand with your family in the region. Whether Palestinian or Israeli, in Gaza or in Israel, people who claim the name of Christ are joined as one in the Church. Here’s how we can pray:
1. Pray for the Israeli families who mourn for loved ones who were killed or taken hostage.
After the attacks, The Bible Society in Israel posted a message on its website that likely mirrors the feelings of so many Israelis: “We are in shock, angry, in mourning,” the message said. “In a few short hours, hundreds of lives were snuffed out, women, men, children, elderly. Several thousand were wounded, over a hundred were taken hostage. More than three thousand rockets were fired into the southern half of the country. There is not a family in the country that has not lost a family member or a friend. More than ever, we need your prayers. Prayers for those who mourn. Prayers for God to use this tragic event to cause people to seek God about their own eternal destiny.”
Lift up those in Israel who lost family and friends in these brutal attacks from Hamas. As they grieve, ask God to comfort them and show His face and the peace only He can bring.
2. Pray for the believers in Gaza who are caught in the middle of the conflict.
Christians in Gaza are terrified of what the military response from Israel will mean for their own lives and church communities. “Currently, we live in a difficult situation in Gaza and [it feels]
incomprehensible, as we do not know what is coming,” one Christian in Gaza told Open Doors. “All we see, hear and feel is war … explosions and destruction everywhere and the screaming of children from the intensity of the bombing. There is a strong fear of what is coming, as there is no safe place in Gaza.”
“We are safe, but we didn’t sleep at all; neither [did] our children,” another believer shared. “We are exhausted, physically and morally. We don’t know what to do.”
Even as Christians around the world rightly condemn the violence that Hamas inflicted on innocent Israelis, we must continue to lift up our Palestinian brothers and sisters who are deeply impacted by the ongoing conflict. Pray for their protection and that they would somehow see God at work in the midst of so much devastation.
3. Ask God to protect innocent people during this conflict.
A pastor and Open Doors partner in the Palestinian territory of the West Bank shared this request on social media: “We are concerned about the high number of civilian casualties, irrespective they are Palestinians or Israelis. We call for the Geneva Convention and the International Humanitarian Law to be guaranteed by the international community.”
A Christian father in Gaza told Open Doors this week that his family is terrified: “My family and I feel fear and anxiety, due to the heavy bombardments, and we feel that the house will fall, it is a permanent earthquake,” he told us. “We try to hug our children and relieve them of fear and terror and many times we cannot from the force of the strikes.”
Innocents always suffer during armed conflict, and this situation is no different. Ask God to protect families, children and civilians in both Israel and Gaza. Ask Him to comfort and strengthen His people and to help those impacted by war to find healing and hope in the midst of the devastation.
4. Pray that, somehow, God will work through this situation to bring more people to Him—and that His people will be salt and light.
As people in both Gaza and Israel look with horror at what’s happening, ask that God will redeem the violence. We serve a God who can work good out of evil (Genesis 50:20) and even though it seems impossible, our brothers and sisters ask us to pray this bold prayer.
“May the present war, and the weakening of confidence in the government and military and intelligence leaders bring many Jews in Israel and in the dispersion to look for their help not from the hills, but from the Maker of Heaven and Earth,” says one Christian in Israel who is a friend of Open Doors. “And may many Arabs do the same.”
Another believer echoes this prayer. “We pray that love and peace will prevail in our country, and I ask for a prayer for God's protection over my family and our home, that the war will end quickly, and that the Lord will meet all needs, especially at this time, and that we be can be the light in the middle of this total darkness and reflect the light and love of Christ in Gaza,” says a believer in Gaza.
5. Pray for those who have been driven out of their homes.
Ask God to free the hostages taken by Hamas in the initial attack on Israel. Pray that these people would be released and returned to their families. “We pray for freedom for all those who are taken from their families and health for the wounded,” one Catholic priest in Gaza told an Open Doors local partner.
Pray also for the people in Gaza who have fled their homes because of the ongoing bombardment. Our local partners report that 200 Christians fled to one church alone, which is also using a church school to house an additional 450 people from their neighborhood. “Our home was bombed and destroyed, and the entire neighborhood no longer existed,” one Christian in Gaza told an Open Doors partner. “There were no more houses, just a dark cloud in the sky, and the air was thick with dust. Some of my belongings were scattered among the rubble, and I was trying to imagine where my room used to be.”
Ask God to be with the people who have been displaced, and to show His face and His mercy to those who seek Him.
6. Pray for Open Doors partners in the Holy Land.
Open Doors has a long history in Israel and the Palestinian territories. In fact, Brother Andrew once gave a Bible to Sheikh Yassin, the founder of Hamas!
As you can imagine, many of our ministry partners and friends in the region are reeling. Our long-term church partners in Gaza leapt into action, providing believers with food and medicine as needed, even as they grapple with the ongoing military response from Israel. We also grieve with our friends in Israel as they mourn the devastation by Hamas.
Please pray for our work through our partners in Gaza and throughout the Holy Land. Pray they would be able to share the hope of Jesus, no matter what.
7. Pray for peace.
The situation in Israel and Gaza seems impossible. By human standards, it’s a disaster that will never change. But we serve a God who is not bound by human perspective—He can bring about peace and the heart changes needed to stop the violence.
“Pray with us, ask the Lord to stop this war, these attacks against the civilian population in Gaza,” one pastor in Gaza asks.
“Pray with us that God will use all those leaders whose decisions in these days will determine the fate of so many people,” the Bible Society of Israel said on its website. “May our loving God bring this disaster to an end.”
Though church services were canceled in Gaza last Sunday, they were held among the Palestinian believers in the West Bank. “We prayed for peace and justice in the Holy Land,” one Christian from Bethlehem told our local partners. Let’s join him as we ask God for peace, knowing that it’s something only He can bring.