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Christian Friends of Leket Israel

Seven Keys to Praying for the Israeli Defense Forces

The IDF needs your prayers.

During COVID-19 they are not only responsible for the defence of Israel, but are providing critical help to Israel’s doctors and providing food to those most in need.

I am sure during this crisis you have been keeping Israel in your prayers, along with your loved ones.

But do you know the specific prayer needs of the IDF as they defend Israelis during the pandemic?

In this guide I will be sharing what I, as a Christian doing advocacy for Israel over two decades, see as their most pressing needs at this time.

1. Pray they will excel in their expanded duties

The IDF is no longer just an army watching over Israel’s borders.

Their mission has expanded to the point that they are managing emergency medical centers and mapping cities to ensure the elderly still receive vital food and medicine.

IDF Chief Naftali Bennet drove home how essential the IDF is in providing leadership and resources on April 2,

““If we want to cope with this [pandemic], if we want to reopen the Israeli economy, then all responsibility for managing the coronavirus crisis — from A to Z — must be transferred to the IDF and the Defense Ministry as quickly as possible,” Bennett said. (Source)

Shortly after, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put Bennet and the IDF in charge of coordinating the response to COVID-19.

While everyone in Israel is doing their best to fight the Coronavirus, the IDF are the only ones with the experience, infrastructure and power to lead the fight.

When we pray for the IDF is is not enough to pray for their war fighting abilities, but that their bravery, steadfastness and intelligence be used to defend the people of Israel from the pandemic and the deprivation it is causing among Israel’s weakest.

2. Pray they will continue to give food to those who need it

One in three Holocaust Survivors and tens of thousands of families across Israel were already undernourished when this quarantine began.

We at Leket Israel, the National Food Bank, have partnerships with farmers and non profit organizations across Israel to feed about 175,000 people per week however the work has become much harder but continues with the IDF’s support.

Because of COVID-19, travelling more than one hundred meters (one hundred and nine yards) from your home became illegal. And the elderly are scared that a single cough from someone younger could be a death sentence.

It isn’t just household under lockdown, but whole communities.

Last month the people of Bnei Brak, a 189,000 low income suburb of Tel Aviv, went about their days normally. But this pandemic has turned the community into a “Restricted Zone” after a serious outbreak of the virus. No one is permitted in or out except medical personnel and IDF soldiers are patrolling the roads to enforce the city wide quarantine.

To ensure the people of Bnei Brak, and the vulnerable across Israel, have enough to eat IDF soldiers are working hard to deliver safe and nutritious meals from Leket Israel directly to the homes of those who need it.

Please pray for the IDF as they continue to carry out the life saving work for the elderly and struggling families throughout the country.

3. Pray for their safety

At the time of this writing Maj. Gen. Nadav Padan, head of the IDF Central Command, is under self quarantine after coming in contact with a known carrier of the virus. As he enters quarantine three other generals, IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi, Home Front Command chief

Maj. Gen. Tamir Yadai and head of IDF Operations Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva, leave quarantine after coming in contact with a reserve officer who later tested positive. Fortunately they did not contract the virus.

Illnesses among those in command can interfere with the command and control of Israel’s army. The wrong person getting sick could cause delays in responding to military threats or confusion when it comes to fighting Coronavirus.

Please remember Jeremiah 17:14, “Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise.”

4. Pray against loneliness among them

“The Lonely Soldier is always lonely” wrote Tamir, a 23 year old British Jew who served in the IDF. (Source)

Each year Jewish youth from around the world feel God’s call to serve in the IDF.

Going from civilian life in a comfortable first world country to military life in a difficult part of the world is a hard transition on its own.

But these teens make an additional sacrifice. They leave their friends and family an ocean away. They are forced to learn to speak a new language and assimilate into a culture at once familiar and completely foreign.

Tamir continues,

“I enlisted in a combat unit, put on the uniform, and held a real weapon. But dealing with reality was different to what I imagined. This feeling of being ‘alone’ never left me. My friends in the unit were wonderful, embraced me as much as they could, but it never felt like I was truly not alone. Because a lone soldier, at the end of the day, stays alone every time everyone else goes home. There isn’t really a home waiting for you, with a warm bed, hot food and infinite love like the home I left in London. You have to take care of everything yourself.”

Many of these “Lonely Soldiers” will leave the army and return home, for others the emotional strain is enough to make their lives tough.

Now in this pandemic thousands of these soldiers find themselves isolated again, as they cannot connect with connections they have made with civilians. This causes a great deal of emotional strain.

Fortunately many of these soldiers are being given the option to help others isolated in Israel if they are not under quarantine themselves. An example is the food delivery they do for the elderly in Israel we will talk about further down.

Pray Psalms 68:5-6: “A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, Is God in His holy habitation. God sets the solitary in families; He brings out those who are bound into prosperity.”

5. Pray their enemies will not strike against them

On October 6, 1973, Israelis celebrated Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Jews went to their synagogues to pray at the same time Egypt’s artillery launched a barrage against Israel.

The Yom Kippur War began when Israelis were not paying attention to their enemies.

A sudden unexpected punch was so hard the heroic Defence Minister, Moshe Dayan, cried on the radio that “The Third Temple (the modern nation of Israel) had fallen”. Only with the bitterest, most desperate fighting, and the grace of God, was Israel able to overcome the might of Egypt and Syria.

Now Israel finds itself in a similar state, potentially distracted by the pandemic. More than ever we must pray that God will extend His hand over His people and give them protection.

Psalms 122:6 instructs us to, “Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem: “May they prosper who love you.”

The attack in 1973 was a surprise attack, pray they remain vigilant and aware, even while it is difficult to continue to do surveillance of their enemies.

1 Peter 5:8 reads, “Be [a]sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”

6. Pray they will be able to assist doctors

The IDF has been actively preparing for a pandemic since Egyptian President Nasser announced he would use biological weapons against Israel in 1962.

This has given Israel a head start in dealing with the crisis and the IDF a head start over the civilian hospitals. The Research Department of Israeli Military Intelligence has stepped in and is working with hospitals to provide up to date information about the pandemic to ensure that Israel’s doctors have what they need to respond.

Israeli doctors are doing all they can to stop the spread of the Coronavirus but their resources are spread thin. They have only 2 beds per thousand Israelis, they also lack an equivalent to the Center for Disease Control

An official in the Research Department has said, “The leaders of the health system came and told us that they were used to waiting a month, a month and a half even, for an answer to their queries, but when they asked us, we gave them an answer in ten minutes.”

Pray that they remain diligent, obeying the words of 1 Thessalonians 5:21, “But test everything; hold fast what is good.”

7. Pray they will be successful running impromptu hospitals

Mild cases of Coronavirus can be even more dangerous than severe cases as they might infect family members who try to care for them.

IDF chief Bennet says, “We don’t know what the coming month will hold. The national goal is to suppress the spike, so that we do not reach the Italian situation in which hospitals collapse under the pressure, in which a hospital doctor has to choose who will live and who will die.”

Bennet also writes,

“There are those among you who are carriers of this virus at this time, and that’s alright. You don’t know it, and you will not know it. The mortality rate among young people is very low. I am this saying with caution, on the basis of the information coming in from the whole world. The mortality rate among elderly carriers is very high. Among 80-year-olds and over, it’s one out of five,” he continued. “One out of five grandparents infected by this virus because their grandchild hugged them could die. The national mission is to wrap them with love, but from afar. Protect grandfather and grandmother.”

To accommodate and treat those with mild symptoms the IDF has set up treatment centers in hotels across Israel. At a Tel Aviv hotel soldiers and doctors have set up an emergency treatment center which can house between 500 and 1000 patients. The IDF runs a similar facility at the Dan Hotel in Jerusalem with further plans to set up across Israel in cities like Haifa and Beersheba.

Hotel staff are also assisting and have been given the training and personal protective equipment needed to keep them safe.

Defense Minister Naftali Bennet is working hard to ensure these impromptu hospitals act as, “These centers will be an island of pleasantness and calm, a home to mild corona carriers in the coming months.”

“I want to tell the public: We will get through this event together,” said Bennett.

Pray that Christians will join in prayer with them!

When we pray for the IDF remember the brave tradition of Christians coming to their aid. It was the Christian Zionist Orde Wingate who forged the original Israeli paratroopers.

Israel’s Arab Christians are also stepping up to defend the people of Israel. Once they identified strongly with the Muslim Palestinian community but now their younger men and women are identifying more with Israel’s democracy and are joining the IDF.

Father Gabriel Nadaf, head of the Israeli Christians Recruitment Forum, says, “We are not Arabs. We are not Palestinians. We are Israelis, citizens of this country and we see ourselves as loyal to this country and its institutions as any Christian living in any other place in the world would,”

I strongly believe this is a sign of God moving the Christians and Jews closer together. Fortunately through prayer Christians around the world can be part of that.

We know that in Matthew 18:20 God states, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

As you pray for the Israeli Defense Forces pray others will join you as well.

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