Influential Christian leaders Ronnie Floyd and Anne Graham Lotz were among some 800 believers who attended a conference in Jerusalem and offered prayers for "supernatural unity."
"We prayed boldly that peace may reign in Jerusalem and in the most volatile region in the world. And we prayed for supernatural unity that overcomes the most entrenched barriers and divisions," Floyd, senior pastor of Cross Church in Northwest Arkansas, told The Christian Post on Thursday.
The Epicenter Prayer Summit in Jerusalem was led by The Joshua Fund on July 11 and 12. Joshua Fund founder Joel C. Rosenberg revealed on his blog that participants included those the U.S., Israel, the Palestinian Authority and other nations. The event came in the midst of high tension in the region, with hundreds of rockets being fired at Israel from Gaza.
Floyd, who is also the former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, and Lotz, author and daughter of late evangelist Billy Graham, both spoke at the event, as did pastors and leaders of local Jewish, Israeli Arab and Palestinian Arab ministries.
"The heartbeat of the conference was to come together in unity, seeing walls coming down between all true believers in Jesus through the power of prayer. All of this is so we can be used in a powerful way to communicate the Gospel to all peoples," Floyd explained.
The pastor reflected that everywhere around the world, people "allow language, race, culture, ancestry, nationality and anything that might make us different from someone else to divide us."
"Sadly, this is painfully visible in the region of the world where Jesus was born. Yet that's exactly why Jesus came, to bring down the barriers between people and between us and God. Bringing people together around the Word of God and the person of Jesus Christ is the key to overcoming divisions between people from diverse backgrounds," he stated.
"The testimonies from Jewish and Palestinian believers in Jesus Christ were particularly powerful and encouraging to each of us. The Gospel is more powerful than any barrier we can build."
Tensions on the Gaza border with Israel flared up in May, when dozens of Palestinians were killed during violent protests over the relocation of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, a decision that has divided many in the region.
Floyd revealed that the differences on the issue "were certainly understood," but explained that the conference "was not meant to address political issues."
"It was meant to remind ourselves that the Gospel transcends these issues and brings us together as one. The vision was to stay focused on the Gospel and its advancement across the Middle East and beyond, knowing prayer and awakening are the key," he added.
Rosenberg, who is a best-selling author, said in opening remarks at prayer summit that believers need to examine just what it means to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
"How do make sure not to simply pray for one group who live here to the exclusion of the others? How can we encourage one another to pray for Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians, and for all who live in the Epicenter?" he posed.
"This is exactly what this Summit is for — learning to pray for all the souls of this extraordinary city and region, from Scripture, with real faces before us, and with purpose and great power."
Lotz, who leads Angel Ministries, spoke from Daniel 9, calling on people to pray in a way that moves Heaven and changes nations, families and individuals.
"If prayer is hard for you, it's because prayer is hard, OK? One of the things that helps me is if I can find a model prayer in Scripture after which I can pattern my prayers ... Daniel was a man who prayed so powerfully and so effectively that God answered his prayer and a nation was changed," she said.
Lotz also spoke of the importance of trusting in the faithfulness of God.
"God is faithful. What testimony can you give of the faithfulness of God in your life? I can tell you, just as God has been faithful to Joel Rosenberg, and just as God has been faithful to Ronnie Floyd, and just as God has been faithful to Billy Graham, and me; just as God has been faithful to your grandmother or your pastor, God will be faithful to you," she continued.
"You know how I know that? Because God is faithful. He can't be less than Himself, can He?"
Floyd told CP that he believes that progress was made on important topics.
"For those of us visiting from America, it moved us to see and hear firsthand about the challenges our Middle Eastern brothers and sisters face. This was personally challenging and an important reminder of the cost of following Jesus. We have to stand in unity and solidarity with believers around the world, especially in places where they face persecution for their faith," the pastor said.
"I believe for those located in the Middle East it was also refreshing and encouraging to know Christians in the West are praying with and for them. Time will bear the testimony of this fruit."
As for the prospects of peace in Israel, given the continued turmoil in the region, Floyd noted that peace begins with prayer.
"Pray for the peace of Jerusalem," he said, citing Psalm 122 in the Bible.
"This is what we did throughout the conference. While we always support efforts to establish peace in Israel and Palestine, our confidence is not in any man-brokered deal. We place our confidence in the Prince of Peace and His soon return, who will establish unending peace not only in Jerusalem but in the whole earth."