How Can Christians Pray for Israel?

Since October 7th, Israel's defensive measures have sparked tensions with the strategic objectives of the United States in the Middle East and have drawn criticism, signaling a significant shift from the traditionally synchronous stance between the United States and Israel.

Managing Partner at Authentic Media
Updated May 01, 2024
How Can Christians Pray for Israel?

“More than ever, Israelis and Jews around the world carry a prayer for the sake and strength of the United States of America. And we acknowledge every day, and I sit on the Knesset Committee for National Security, that without the United States, Israel cannot meet this existential moment.” - - A quote from a video of Rabbi Gilad Kariv recorded at the Knesset on December 14, 2023* 

Since October 7th, Israel's defensive measures have sparked tensions with the strategic objectives of the United States in the Middle East and have drawn criticism, signaling a significant shift from the traditionally synchronous stance between the United States and Israel.

For the first time in recent memory, the two countries are diverging in their fundamental long-term visions and goals, as evidenced by a group of U.S. senators who have called on President Biden to halt military aid to Israel. The senators contend that Israel's actions in certain contexts may have breached conditions stipulated in U.S. aid policies, specifically those that dictate how recipient countries should use the military aid. [a]

This action by the senators represents an important moment in U.S.-Israel relations, as it challenges the routine nature of military support and brings to the forefront legal and ethical considerations, causing Americans, led by a liberal media, to call for us to turn our back on Israel.  

Christians are now faced with a dilemma: irrespective of their stance on the legality of Israel's actions, will they continue to support and pray for Israel? Hopefully, we can all at least agree on one thing: that scriptural teachings advocate for praying for Israel, and this directive is not contingent on the Israeli government's response to terrorist attacks.

“‘I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you, and in you, all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’”—Genesis 12:3

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! May they be secure who love you! – Psalm 122:6

Rabbi and Knesset Member Gilad Kariv

In the landscape of contemporary political and religious discourse, Knesset Member Gilad Kariv stands out as a figure of bridge-building and unity. Amidst the complex web of global politics, he extends an olive branch that crosses faiths and political lines, advocating for a cohesive moral front against the challenges of our times. As a progressive religious leader and the first Reform rabbi to enter the Israeli Knesset, Kariv's thoughts on prayer and interfaith support provide a refreshing perspective on the role of Zionism, faith, and interdenominational relationships in modern Israel.

A Call for Universal Prayer

“I find myself in an interesting theological moment. I'm a progressive religious leader, and yet when it comes to the way we understand the role of Zionism and the Jewish people in the modern age, I find myself in partnership with many conservatives and [Evangelicals].” 

In the attached video, Kaliv addresses Christian Pastor Spencer Lloyd's question on how to pray for Israel. He underscores the importance of collective prayer to safeguard humanity against adversity. He highlights that the turbulent geopolitical climate is not an isolated struggle but a shared concern for those who cherish the moral teachings of ancient traditions. It's a universal cry for peace and prosperity that transcends borders, with Israel and the United States seen as beacons for these common values.

Gratitude and Prayers for the United States

Kariv expresses deep appreciation for the United States' unwavering support, acknowledging that bipartisan American backing has been pivotal for Israel's security. He points out that Israel's existence at this existential moment is tightly interwoven with the support from American administrations past and present. This gratitude extends to the everyday prayers for the strength, stability, and prosperity of the American nation, which he sees as a key ally in the larger battle for humanity's future.

With the changing political climate in Washington, D.C., Israel's position is uncertain. Rabbi Kariv acknowledges the critical and intertwined relationship between Israel and the United States, especially regarding Israel's security and national existence. The future of Israel raises questions, particularly if the senators' efforts prevail, biased media coverage persists, and the U.S. limits Israel's access to its military resources.

Furthermore, this situation prompts reflection on America's fate in light of the divine warning from Isaiah: 

"For the nation and kingdom that will not serve you shall perish; those nations shall be utterly laid waste" (Isaiah 60:12). 

That seems like a pretty clear directive to me. 

Wisdom Above Politics

Perhaps we can all learn from Kariv's approach to political opposition. It’s a lesson in humility and respect. Despite opposing Prime Minister Netanyahu, he prays for the Prime Minister's wisdom to lead the nation effectively. 

When was the last time you prayed for President Biden? I must confess that my prayers for his wisdom and his stewardship of our nation have been, well, nonexistent. That's on me—shame on me.

Rabbi Kariv’s prayer for guidance is apolitical; it is a prayer for the human behind the title, entrusted with the nation's future.

Embracing Interfaith Dialogues

Kariv’s response in this video is not only political but also deeply personal and theological. As a rabbi from the Reform Jewish movement, he speaks to the historical tensions between Judaism and Christianity and the evolution of these relationships over time. He acknowledges and even embraces Christianity's role in the divine plan and its success in spreading the message of monotheism globally.

Looking towards the future, Kariv expresses a desire for his own children to experience the richness of other faiths, instilling in them a sense of Jewish pride while also fostering respect and understanding of different religious practices. He reflects on the past when Jews were forbidden from showcasing their places of worship, contrasting it with the present, where his progressive shul warmly welcomes individuals from all faiths.

I'm struck again by a sense of guilt. When did I last enter a different place of worship to connect with those of other religions? Given the strength of my faith, I shouldn't hesitate to visit a mosque or synagogue. However, I regret that I've never set foot in a mosque.

A Divine Partnership Amongst the Abrahamic Faiths

Kariv, however, emphasizes the need to build a coalition among the Abrahamic faiths—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. While acknowledging the current difficulty in identifying moderate Muslim allies due to extremist forces, he remains hopeful. His vision is one of unity, where religious leaders work collectively to promote peace and protect humanity.

“Can we build a coalition of faith between leaders of the three Abrahamic faiths that will be based on Biblical morality, but also in the teachings of the New Testament in regard to the future of humanity? This is, again, a great theological challenge of ours.” - - Gilad Kariv

Gilad Kariv presents a significant theological and moral challenge for our era. Can leaders of the three Abrahamic faiths create a united front founded on Biblical morals and the teachings of the New Testament, addressing humanity's future? Kariv seems willing to embrace this challenge, fostering a world where faith is a conduit for peace and mutual respect.

Kariv's discourse is a powerful reminder of the potential for faith to transcend divisions, uniting us in our common humanity and the quest for a better world. It is an invitation to all to join in prayer and action for the prosperity and security of nations and the forging of a global fellowship rooted in the ancient yet ever-relevant virtues of faith.

Special thanks to KKL-JNF for arranging this inspiring meeting with Rabbi Kariv. 

Who Is Gilad Kariv?

Raised and educated in Tel Aviv, Gilad Kariv's life reflects a blend of religious progressivism, legal acumen, and social activism, starting with his early engagement in the Reform Movement at Beit Daniel Synagogue during his high school years. His journey continued through a Service Year with the Hebrew Scouts, leading educational initiatives, and distinguished military service in the Israel Defense Forces' elite Haman Talpiot program, eventually earning an officer's commission. Pursuing higher education, Kariv gained a law degree and a master's in Jewish studies from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, furthered by an internship at the Supreme Court's State Attorney Office and another master's in constitutional law from Northwestern University in Chicago. Active in community organization, he established networks for the Progressive Movement and engaged in social advocacy. Ordained as a rabbi, Kariv led at Beit Daniel and directed the Israel Religious Action Center, advocating for religious freedom and social justice, and later headed the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism (IMPJ), pushing for its recognition and expansion. His public service extended to various boards and media, promoting civil rights and religious inclusivity. Entering politics, Kariv secured a Knesset seat with the Israeli Labor Party in 2021, actively opposing certain police reforms and advocating for an egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall. Residing in Givatayim with his family, Kariv embodies the principles of family, faith, and public service.

Photo Courtesy: ©Getty Images/Luke Franzen

Joshua SwansonJoshua Swanson holds the position of Managing Partner at Authentic Media and co-founded GTMA, where he also served as CEO. Beginning his career in the entertainment sector, he has since branched out into consulting, technology, and marketing. Swanson played a pivotal role in revitalizing a 30-year-old Christian media and music company, managing entities like Worship Leader Magazine, Song Discovery, the National Worship Leader Conference, and the Worship Leader Institute. He is the host of The Walk podcast. His firms have collaborated with prominent brands such as Sprint, Pokemon Go, Pepsi, Corona, and numerous national real estate organizations, earning a place on the Inc. 5000 list three times. In 2019, Swanson sold Razz Interactive, a company he started, to ResMan, a firm backed by Mainsail Partners. Beyond his U.S. business ventures, he actively promotes ties between Christian and Jewish business leaders, consulting for clients like KKL-JNF, iAngels, and the City of Jerusalem. Swanson also indulges in writing about food and wine for the blog Paired! blog.


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