The psalmist writes to "pray for the peace of Jerusalem" (Psalm 122), which seems a strange bit of a prayer, doesn't it?
After all, Jerusalem was "home" for so many of those who would be considered persons of prayer. This was the place where many of those who would pray to the Lord lived and worked, loved and worshiped. This was the place where God dwelt among them in His Temple. In fact, everywhere you looked around Jerusalem, you'd be reminded of Israel's God, of the Lord who loves His people and brought them to this good place to settle. You'd be reminded of His praise. And you'd be just steps away from His covenant in the Ark and His throne of mercy.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem...but look at this place! It's literally teeming with God already. Who would ever need to pray for it?
It's the same kind of logic that keeps most of us from praying for our churches. And our families. And in many cases, our communities.
After all, this is the place that we, as the faithful, live and work, love and worship. Our lives are marked by the activities of God that we invest them in, and our churches are the places where our God dwells in our community. These places already have God - why on earth would we ever need to pray for them?
Don't you know there are starving children in Africa? Homeless children in central America? Tribes in the South Pacific who have never even heard of God? These are the places that need our prayers, not our homes, not our churches, not our communities.
And yet, pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
Can you imagine how much more our churches could be doing in our communities if we were praying for them? Can you imagine how much more our families could be doing for others if we were praying for us? Can you imagine how much easier life would be if we covered our day-to-day in prayer, knowing that God is already in it but seeking even more of Him? His active presence among us?
What if we lived prayerfully expecting the benefits of God in our lives and not just His address somewhere nearby? What if it wasn't enough for us to know where to find God in our world but if we actively invited Him into our most intimate places?
What if we prayed unceasingly for our church to be His church?
Jerusalem seems like an odd place to pray for if you're living there and you know how near the presence of God already is. But when He draws nearer still as a result of our prayer, it doesn't seem odd at all.
Rather, it seems...faithful.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, that place where you live and work, love and worship. Where you already know where to find God, pray for God to find you there, too.