Why Pray for Israel's Elderly?
It has been my habit to open my prayers with Israel.
Its been my practice for over 20 years.
Let me tell you how it has made my prayers much more fervent.
Sometimes doesn’t it feel like our life’s troubles are insurmountable?
Especially now under the COVID-19 quarantine feelings of isolation or loneliness can become very strong can’t they?
Unfortunately those anxieties can cloud our prayers to God. Sometimes in the back of our mind we can wonder, “Is He really there?” “Will He really reach down to us?” And that makes our prayers sometimes weak and trembling when they should be strong and rejoicing, even in the worst times.
But do you know why I begin by focusing my prayers on Israel?
Because doing so takes those fears and anxieties away!
Think about how Israel is the living proof of God’s love, power and faithfulness. God has sheltered them through two thousand years of painful exile from their homeland. Even when Hitler tried to wipe them out with all the powers of this Earth, still God sheltered many of them. And He used many Christians to do it!
And then He gave them redemption in the Land of Israel. Israel is the nation where God Himself has literally drawn it on the map!
I don’t believe God did this just for the Jewish people, I think when you look around at the hopelessness many feel today God redeemed Israel to be a beacon unto the Nations.
“It is too small a thing for you to be my servant
to restore the tribes of Jacob
and bring back those of Israel I have kept.
I will also make you a light for the Gentiles,
that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” Isaiah 49:6
It is right there in God’s hand, on the map in in His word, Israel is a light to us all because it is in Israel’s story, both biblical and present day, that we can see the grand power of His unfolding plan for us all!
Isn’t it good to know that the same God who watched over the people of Israel watches over us as well? That the God who has the power and love to shelter and redeem them even during the worst nightmares watches over us as well?
I am thankful that God has provided such a light for us all!
Begin your prayers by thanking God for His protection for the people of Israel, and I believe you will find yourself on sure and steady ground to lift yourself up to God in prayer!
Pray Against Poverty
It pains me to share this with you, but the last years of many Israelis are poverty and desperation. As well as hunger (more on this later).
One in four are under the poverty line (Haaretz, “Survey: Nearly a Quarter of Israeli Seniors Struggle to Get By”). But it is not for lack of work.
No one works harder than an Israeli senior, yet no one is punished harder for it.
The majority of seniors still work, 43% will work well past 70. Now it would be nice to think these are professionals too in love with their work to give it up. But that isn’t the case. If you are an Israeli woman odds are very high you will be wiping floors and cleaning toilets in a shopping mall when you should be enjoying your twilight years.
Yet upon retirement their government pension is just a meager $442 USD per month.Not nearly enough for a country like Israel where the cost of living is very high.
Please pray that God will steer Israel’s leaders to take a more compassionate stance toward them, to increase their pension or assist them in other ways.
Yet even having to scrape by in their final years they are still expected to look after their children and grand children when the reverse should be the case. 43% of the elderly up to age 80 give assistance to their children in the form of money or labor – but only 22% receive help from their children.
Also please pray that their families will take a more active role in praying for their parents and grand parents. That they will honor those who brought them into the world and be there to give rather than take. Pray especially they are there to feed them in their last years, further down I will explain how this is by far their number one prayer need.
These Israelis literally built the country. They settled it fleeing the Holocaust or persecution in Muslim countries. They drained the swamps and built the factories. Made terrible sacrifices in wartime. And this is what their last years look like.
I am not saying this to upset you but to drive home their needs for you to share with God in prayer.
Pray Israel's most resiliant stay healthy during COVID-19
Have you ever heard of the Holocaust Paradox?
It refers to how those who experience intense trauma and deprivation in childhood tend to live longer than those who lived more comfortable lives.
Israel Holocaust Survivors live an average of seven years longer than other Israelis (Times of Israel “Holocaust survivors less healthy but outlive their peers by 7 years, study finds”). Researchers attribute this resilience to both genetic and psychological factors.
But this longer life is a much more troubled one. Israeli survivors have severe health issues. Israeli Holocaust Survivors were able to go most of their adult lives without suffering from injuries or illnesses from the war, but now they are coming back with a vengeance.
“Holocaust survivors suffer overall higher rates of chronic diseases — including cancer, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, heart attacks, obesity, chronic kidney disease and dementia — than the general population. (Times of Israel)”
The lack of food these Israelis receive makes these health issues even worse.
Right now it is urgent Christians pray for the health of these elderly Israelis. COVID-19 does not kill very many people directly. The reason why those lost tend to be elderly is because the virus weakens the body just enough that pre-existing conditions become too much for the body to fight and long term but manageable health problems become fatal.
When you pray for them, pray their bodies, which have already weathered so much, will be kept safe from Coronavirus.
Pray against Isolation
It has been hard to socially distance from our friends and loved ones. But Israeli seniors have been hurt much more by it.
“This new situation puts [the elderly] in a difficult reality as their daily routines have evaporated — they no longer go out to meet friends, to community centers, to supermarkets or other activities,” Yossi Heyman, executive director of the American Joint Distribution Committee’s association Eshel, told JNS. “Social distancing is also taking a toll because the elderly face more loneliness than the rest of the population. In fact, we are hearing from many home bound seniors that they’re more afraid of loneliness than the virus. (The Jewish Star, “Home bound seniors in Israel: Isolated and lonely”).
We should pray that God will be there for them,
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” Isaiah 41:10
But we must also pray that their families come to them and care for them physically and emotionally.
Pray Against Hunger
Hunger seems strange to talk about in Israel, the “Land of Milk and Honey.”
I mean if you have seen Israel God has allowed it to overflow with milk and honey. But half of that bounty is wasted before it gets to those who need it.
Elderly Israelis already on restricted income and with health issues which make it hard to get groceries are hardest hit.
One in Five Holocaust Survivors go without at least one meal each week. (Tablet “Israel’s Starving Survivors”)
This causes a number of serious problems for the elderly in Israel.
Vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre, protein and antioxidants are all needed to maintain a strong immune system. The loss of these foods can weaken their immunity, making it harder to fight off infection.
In this time of isolation proper nutrition also impacts their mental health. Carbohydrates, tryptophane, vitamin B12, folate, thiamine and iron are all scientifically proven to impact your mood (Scandinavian Journal of Nutrition).
The lack of food is where problems of poverty, health and loneliness come together. By addressing the issue of hunger Christians can relieve the stress of poverty, help them cope with the anxiety that comes with isolation and keep their bodies strong during the pandemic.
Leket Israel is working to feed 175,000 Israelis each week
During the pandemic Leket Israel has successfully delivered food to Israeli Holocaust survivors, struggling families and school children. As Christians I believe we have a special role to play in God’s plan for Israel, one you can be part of by feeding those most desperately in need.