Several hundred supporters of Israel from around the globe have submitted prayers for the families of IDF soldiers who fell during the most recent war in the Gaza Strip, marking the one-year anniversary of their deaths.
Responding to an online campaign by a pro-Israel nonprofit, mostly Christian supporters of Israel from 35 countries, including Egypt, have offered a personal prayer to be submitted to the bereaved families during the upcoming High Holidays.
“Losing a loved one is the most painful cross any of us could ever bear. Your loved one is always in your heart forever,” wrote Nannette Balsam from Montana. “I pray that God is carrying you through this season of sorrows. I pray that His Peace and Comfort surround you always.”
Anne-Amarie Pan from Singapore wrote, “May the memory of your loved ones be a blessing always. May you know Adonai is always with you, in pain and in sorrow, in peace and in joy. Whatever the circumstances, you are not alone.”
Sixty-four Israeli soldiers were killed during Operation Protective Edge, which ended on August 26, 2014.
“It struck me that hundreds if not thousands of Israelis this year were observing the first anniversary of their loved one’s death. That’s traumatic,” said Jonathan Feldstein, the Israel representative of American Friends of Magen David Adom, which launched the project. “A full year had passed since the war, and for most Israelis life had gone to normal. But for many Israelis who lost someone, life will never be normal again.”
During the war, countless Israelis attended the funerals of fallen IDF warriors, but this year, the bereaved families are pretty much alone with their grief, Feldstein continued. “We didn’t want their yahrzeits to go unrecognized, so we came up with the idea to invite Christian supporters to send them their prayers. It’s a meaningful way, albeit anonymous, for people who love Israel to remember and show they care.”
Feldstein is the creator of Heart to Heart, a subdivision of AFMDA recruiting donations from Christian supporters of Israel’s ambulance service in the United States. A few weeks ago, he sent out an ad with the names of all 64 military casualties to a few thousand people on his email list, asking recipients to send prayers to their families “to comfort and give them strength.”
The response has been overwhelming. The original goal, to gather 10 prayers for each bereaved household, was met almost immediately, Feldstein said.
“They’ve been coming in in such a pace that I’ve been unable to keep track of how many, precisely, we received. And they keep coming in. Today I woke up and had four more.”
Most of the prayers originate in the United States and other English-speaking countries, but some are from Israel supporters from more remote places, such as India, Nigeria and the Fiji Islands.
“I pray for each one who lost a loved one, God said in his word he would bottle up every tear, he knows your hurt & promised heal your hurts and that is my prayer, that he heals & comforts you,” wrote Penney Mcgraw of Oklahoma.
Some of the prayers, however, might make Jewish Israelis uncomfortable, as they reference Christian motifs and in some cases invoke Jesus.
“May He reveal all that He desires to you and may He baptize you in His Holy Spirit and with His glorious and most holy fire. And keep you and the family from the wickedness of the wicked in Jesus’ holy name,” Jacqueline Kelly from Jamaica wrote.
Prayer for families is the very foundation that keeps a family unit together. Have you heard the phrase “A family that prays together stays together”? The concept is true – a family that has their focus on praying to the Lord Jesus Christ has a foundation that may be shaken at times, but it will withstand all that comes against them.
It’s important for parents to have their children involved in family prayer because this helps build the children’s relationship with the Lord and also teaches them the importance of prayer. Families that pray together establish trust with one another, learn to pray in a fellowship, and come in agreement through Jesus. These disciplines help bring unity to the household.
The family is a small church and our ministry first starts at home. In 1 Timothy 3:5 we read, “If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?” Managing your family is caring for each member, teaching them God’s ways, leading them to grow in the Lord, and equipping them for adult life. Prayer is an important element in this process. A family who has a heart of prayer for each other will have a heart of prayer for the world.
Prayer for families can be done in a variety of ways – by you in your prayer closet, by praying together with your spouse, praying together as a family unit, and praying with friends. Praying for your family not only lays a foundation for family life, it also surrounds your family with protection and peace.
In many cases, the Lord reveals specific needs for your family members. He reveals pain that they may be feeling or certain things that are drawing them away from fellowship with Him. Praying for your family can give you insight from the Lord and most of all, prayer will bring you comfort as God reminds you of His promises. Perhaps some members of your family do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Prayer for the unsaved is vital.
Prayer for Families – Sample Prayers
- Prayer for protection and provision – Father, Thank you for my family. I ask that you bless them with Your favor. Provide for all of their needs. I ask You to protect them from harm and evil. Surround them in the shadow of Your wing. Go before them and prepare the way for them. If any path is crooked, I ask you to make it straight. Protect them from the schemes of the enemy and keep them from deception. Bring Your perfect peace to their hearts. In Jesus name I pray, amen.
- Prayer for unity – Father, I thank you for blessing me with my family. I ask you to bring us into unity through You. I ask that anything that is hidden in darkness – to cause disunity – will be brought to light. I ask You to lead us into Your perfect truth and help us to be the family You intend us to be. Lord, help us to be a blessing to one another and to others. Reveal Yourself to us and let us come into agreement with You. Lead us in Your ways. Grant us compassionate hearts, fill us with Your love that does not keep records of wrong, and bring joy to our hearts when we think of one another. Bring Your perfect peace and unity into our family. In Jesus name I pray, amen.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
– We have all
and deserve God’s judgment.
, the Father, sent His only Son to satisfy that judgment for those who believe in Him.
, the creator and eternal Son of God, who lived a sinless life, loves us so much that He
for our sins, taking the punishment that we deserve, was
rose from the dead
according to the
. If you truly believe and trust this in your heart, receiving Jesus alone as your
, declaring, “
Jesus is Lord
,” you will be saved from
and spend eternity with God in heaven.
What is your response?
Yes, today I am deciding to follow JesusYes, I am already a follower of JesusI still have questions
Perhaps social media has increased our awareness, but chances are you or someone you know is enduring a season of grief right now: the death of a loved one, friend, neighbor or coworker.
Loss always produces grief. There is no escaping it. If you try to deny it or postpone it, it will only gather force and become more debilitating the longer you try to suppress it. That is one reason prayer is an indispensable resource for a grieving heart. While intelligible prayer may seem impossible in the early days of a deep loss, one or more of the following prayers may become helpful as the shock begins to subside:
“If we can get Guideposts inspirational stories into the hands of people who may not have a devotional life, they can share the true-life stories of how God works in the world. The joy of Guideposts is their free, donated magazines to my hospital. –Rob C., Director of Pastoral Care.
1) Pour out your grief.
“Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and body with grief” (Psalm 31:9, NIV). My heart is broken, my mind exhausted. I cry out to you and hardly know what to ask. All I can do is tell you how I feel and ask you to “keep track of all my sorrows. . . . all my tears in your bottle. . . . each one in your book” as I pour them out to you (Psalm 56:8, NLT). Amen.
Ask the OurPrayer team to pray for you!
2) Ask for comfort.
Jesus, You said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4, NIV). I am mourning; send me Your comfort now. Wrap around Your arms around me and hold me tight. Send angels of mercy to me. Shower Your comfort on me through those around me, and keep far from me those whose words and actions are no comfort. Amen.
3) Ask for healing.
O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, hurry to help me. Please take the consuming anguish I feel right now; take it from me and hold me in Your arms. Heal my broken heart and bind up my wounds (see Psalm 147:3). Amen.
4) Ask for peace.
Jesus, You told Your followers, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe in Me as well. . . . Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives” (John 14:1, 27, NIV). I need Your peace. I need “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding” to guard my heart and mind (Philippians 4:7, NIV). I need peaceful sleep. I ask for peaceful thoughts and emotions to rule my days and nights. Amen.
Read More: The Garden That Healed Our Grief
5) Ask for hope.
Lord, the Bible says You are “close to the brokenhearted and those whose spirits are crushed” (Psalm 34:18, NLT). Draw close to me and rescue me. Help me not to grieve like those who haven’t discovered Your kindness and mercy, who have no hope (see 1 Thessalonians 4:13); lift me up and give me hope once more. Help me to believe that tomorrow will be better, and the next day will be easier, and that a day will come when I will feel a surge of energy and expectation for what You are doing and where You will take me. Amen.
As the prayers above suggest, you may find special comfort in reading and praying the Psalms during a season of grief. They can help you take the time to grieve well and to pray as much as you are able.
To lose someone you love is to alter your life forever…The pain stops, there are new people, but the gap never closes… This hole in your heart is the shape of the one you lost – no one else can fit it.
For death is no more than a turning of us over from time to eternity.
– William Penn
Sorrow makes us all children again – destroys all differences of intellect. The wisest know nothing.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
There are no goodbyes for us. Wherever you are, you will always be in our hearts.
– Mahatma Gandhi
It’s so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.
– John Steinbeck
I guess by now I should know enough about loss to realize that you never really stop missing someone-you just learn to live around the huge gaping hole of their absence.
– Alyson Noel, Evermore
In sorrow we must go, but not in despair. Behold! we are not bound for ever to the circles of the world, and beyond them is more than memory.
– J.R.R. Tolkien