The Bible asks us to pray for Jerusalem

Pray for the well-being of Yerushalayim; “May those who love you be at peace.




(the israel bible)

February 15, 2023

5 min read

Followers of Jesus who love Israel urgently want the Lord to bless and protect His people and His land. This desire often expresses itself in prayer, asking the Heavenly Father to shield the Jewish people from those who seek their harm. For many lovers of Israel, prayers are sent heavenward when the “Red Alert” app sounds on smartphones across the world.  Other prayers are voiced when news readers learn of another terrorist attack on innocent civilians seeking only to live their lives and enjoy their families. 

Did you know that readers of the Bible everywhere are called to pray for their own city?  As we read in Jeremiah 29:7, the Lord said,  “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.”  It is a mitzva to seek the welfare of your own dwelling place, asking the Lord to protect innocent people and guide the local leaders in your area.  All of us can, and should, pray for our own communities, be they in Israel or Europe or Texas. 

Only one city, however, is specifically named by the Bible as deserving of the prayers of all people, not just its local inhabitants. 

The city getting special recognition and attention in God’s Word is, of course, Jerusalem.  In Hebrew, the city’s name is pronounced Yerushalayim and written as יְרוּשָׁלַםִ.  The location of the city is famously referenced in Genesis 22:2 when God called Abraham to take his beloved son, Isaac, to offer him as a sacrifice on the place known also as Mount Moriah. 

Over 3,000 years ago, Israelite King David chose to establish his palace in Jerusalem, not in his birthplace of Bethlehem, and declare the city as his kingdom’s capital.  As we read in 1 Chronicles 22:1-2.

“David said, ‘This is the house of the Lord God, and this is the altar of burnt offering for Israel.’ So David gave orders to gather the foreigners who were in the land of Israel, and he set stonecutters to hew out stones to build the house of God.”

Jerusalem is mentioned more than 800 times in the Bible (Tanakh and New Testament) and is referred to by approximately 70 different names. This city is called “Jebus” in Judges 19:10.  It is called both “Zion” and “City of David” in 2 Samuel 5:7.  It is called “Salem” in Genesis 14:18.  Jerusalem is described as the “City of God” (Ir Ha’ Elohim) in Psalm 87:3 and the “City of Truth” (Ir Ha’ Emet) in Zechariah 8:3. This place is called the “Faithful City” (Kiryat Ne’ Emanah) in Isaiah 1:25 and “Joyful City” (Kiryat Alizah) in Isaiah 22:2. Psalm 48:2 (later quoted by Jesus in Matthew 5:35) calls Jerusalem the “City of the Great King” (Kiryat Melekh Rav).  While we could list many more examples, we will conclude with one more name, Jerusalem is the “Dwelling of Righteousness” (Neveh Zedek) as mentioned in Jeremiah 31:23.

The Bible first mentions the most well-known name of the city in Joshua 10:1 when it describes the fear felt by the soldiers of “Adoni-zedek, king of Jerusalem” as they considered the supernatural power of the Israelite army led by Joshua, son of Nun. 

The Jews who were exiled from the Promised Land and resettled in Babylon observed their foreign living conditions and lamented over their separation from Jerusalem.  Their sorrow over missing the Holy City is expressed in Psalm 137:1-6.

“By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion. Upon the willows in the midst of it we hung our harps. For there our captors demanded of us songs, and our tormentors mirth, saying, ‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion.’  How can we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?  If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget her skill.  May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not exalt Jerusalem above my chief joy.” 

This historically important city even gets its own day of celebration on the Hebrew calendar which recognizes Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day) on the 28th day of Iyyar.

A city mentioned so often in the Bible and a city so loved by God should be cherished by the people of God. One Bible verse can serve as a guide for pro-Israel Christians to understand one way they can participate in God’s divine mission in the Holy Land. Bible students who read Psalm 122:6 are confronted with the spiritual assignment of praying for Israel, specifically for the city of Jerusalem.

What should they pray? What does this verse instruct followers of Jesus to do?

In English, the entire verse is written as, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; may they prosper that love thee.”

In Hebrew, the entire verse is written as שַׁאֲלוּ, שְׁלוֹם יְרוּשָׁלִָם;  יִשְׁלָיוּ, אֹהֲבָיִךְ.

To understand what Christians (and Jews) are called to pray, let’s focus initially on the first phrase, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (English) or שַׁאֲלוּ, שְׁלוֹם יְרוּשָׁלִָם  (Hebrew).  This first phrase is transliterated into English as “sha’alu sh’lom Yerushalayim.”  Rashi wrote that the verb “pray” means to “request” and that “peace” refers to the “welfare” of the city.

As The Israel Bible teaches:

“Peace is the most important gift we can ask from Hashem, on an individual level, as families, and between nations. It is therefore of utmost significance that the world’s holiest city, Yerushalayim (ירושלים), has the word shalom at its core, because it is meant to be the source of all peace on earth. King David exhorts “Pray for the well-being of Yerushalayim,” for when Yerushalayim is confronted with conflict, the whole world suffers. Conversely, though, when Yerushalayim is at peace, the entire world enjoys serenity.

God’s favor on this one city is so comprehensive and the command to pray so important to the Lord that King David’s words in Psalm 122:6 are echoed in another of David Hamelech’s famous writings. In Psalm 51:18, the man after God’s own heart prayed to the Creator, “By Your favor do good to Zion; build the walls of Jerusalem.”

The verbשַׁ֭אֲלוּ  (sha’alu) in Psalm 122:6 is a plural imperative in Hebrew grammar, revealing that this is a command for ALL believers to pray, not limited to the priests or any other specific sub-group.  This prayer involves seeking the tranquility and welfare of the Holy City.  As Albert Barnes wrote, “It breathes the desire that all would pray for the peace and prosperity of a city so dear to their own souls; where the worship of God was celebrated; where God himself dwelt; where justice was administered: a city of so much importance and so much influence in the land.”

When looking at the second part of Psalm 122:6, we read, “may they prosper who love you.”  Readers of this verse are reminded that God the Father is a “rewarder of those who seek Him” (see Hebrews 11:6).  When we pray for the peace of God’s city, God responds by offering us the gift of peace. In a spiritual, reciprocity that hints of Genesis 12:3, seeking the welfare of God’s city honors and obeys the God who divinely provides welfare for His children. To seek God for the peace of Jerusalem is to seek to connect with the Prince of Peace, the promised one Christians understand to be prophesied in Isaiah 9:6 and fulfilled in Luke 2:11.

If you worship the Heavenly Father, you probably have longed to join in His kingdom work. If you study the Bible, you probably have a desire to do more than just read.  Knowledge about God should result in obedience to God.  By studying Psalm 122:6, we now know God’s calling.

WHAT to do: pray

FOR WHAT to pray: peace

FOR WHOM to pray: Jerusalem

Lovers of Israel, keep learning the scriptures, keep visiting the Holy Land, keep watching the news and keep voting for pro-Israel politicians.  Most of all, keep praying the prayer of Psalm 122:6, begging HaShem for the peace of Jerusalem. 

Trey Graham is a pastor, writer and radio host in Texas who leads tours of Christian pilgrims to study the Bible in Israel. Learn more at

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