Jerusalem Prayer Unites Christians, Jews

A global day of prayer for Jerusalem on Sunday united Christians and Jews to pray for peace in the holy city where followers of both faiths trace their religious roots.

Pastors, rabbis, and Israeli lawmakers in Jerusalem joined millions of people around the world for the fifth annual Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem (DDPJ).

The event brought together more than 150 countries and over 150,000 churches worldwide in prayer for Israel, according to The Jerusalem Post.

"The fact is, whatever our theological or political positions regarding Israel, we can all agree there is a biblical mandate and a current crisis that should cause us to pray," said the Rev. Robert Stearns of the ministry Eagles' Wings, in a statement.

Stearns organized DPPJ together with megachurch pastor Dr. Jack Hayford of The Church on the Way.

The two long-time pro-Israel leaders were joined by Rabbis Shlomo Riskin and Benny Elon of the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus despite the chief rabbinate's recent ruling that Jews were to not participate in any Christian events.

"Our best friends in the United States are Christians, offering love, friendship, and partnership," said Riskin, according to The Jerusalem Post, "We would be foolish not to take advantage of it, especially during these troubled times."

Both rabbis thanked Christians for helping Israel survive in the past and for protecting it against current threats of destruction by Iran and radical Islam.

The former Israeli ambassador to the United States, Danny Ayalon, also spoke about the importance of Israel-Christian relationship on the day of the event that intertwined faith and politics.

Last year, a national Pew Forum poll found that a solid majority of American Christians still believe in the importance of Israel and the Jewish people in modern times.

Nearly 70 percent of white evangelical American Protestants in the South support the belief that the state of Israel was given to the Jewish people by God. Meanwhile, 59 percent subscribe to the belief that Israel is the fulfillment of biblical prophecy.

"The reason that 7 out of 10 evangelicals believe that God gave the land of Israel to the Jewish people is simply because it is stated as such in the Bible, and evangelicals believe the Bible to be God's Word," the Southern Baptist Convention vice president for convention relations, Dr. Kenyn Cureton, had explained to The Christian Post last year.

However, a growing number of Christian leaders have also voiced opposition to blind support of Israel.

In a move to rectify misconception that all American evangelicals are only concerned about Israel, dozens of top Christian leaders sent a letter to President Bush this summer declaring support for a Palestinian state derived out of current Israel-controlled lands.

"There is a part of the evangelical family, which is what I call Christian Zionists, who are just so staunchly pro-Israel that Israel and their side can do no wrong, and it's almost anti-biblical to criticize Israel for anything," pointed out megachurch pastor Joel Hunter to the New York Times in July.

Christian leaders have also increasingly criticized Israel for its ban on proselytism, which has resulted in a string of recent crackdowns on individuals and companies accused of missionary activities.

Sunday's DPPJ event featured churches worldwide praying for Israel during their worship services and individuals joining "virtual prayer rooms" via a 24-hour teleconference.

Evangelical Christians compose one-third of American tourists visiting Israel – second only to American Jews – and have poured billions of dollars into the country over the past 20 years.