As many of you know, I am blessed to be on a prayer journey to Jerusalem – a surprise provision from the Lord. This morning we spent some time at the Wailing Wall (or Western Wall as it is called here).
I must admit to having some conflicting emotions about it. Is it really part of the wall of the old temple? There is some newer evidence combined with eyewitness account of Josephus to suggest other possibilities. It even could go against Jesus’ words regarding the temple, “Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another that shall not be thrown down.” Matthew 24:2
Yet, I’d heard stories of people experiencing powerful things there or answered prayers, on tiny pieces of paper stuck in the cracks of the wall.
With these thoughts, I neared the wall, jostled by the crowd, from ultra-orthodox to casual tourists. Grandmas with their prayer shawls and little girls dancing in adorable dresses.
The first thing to attract my attention was the barrier that divides the men’s and women’s side. A Bar Mitzah was taking place on the men’s side, but the mothers, daughters, grandmothers, and aunts could only watch, perched precariously on chairs from the women’s side, looking over the solid fence, cheering and at times throwing candy to the young man on the other side. I thought of the verse “For He Himself…has broken down the middle wall of division between us.” Ephesians 2:14
I got on a chair too, to watch what I could barely see over the barrier. Fathers and sons, uncles and brothers, reciting Holy Scripture, chanting, dancing and celebrating.
Then I moved closer to the wall, pressing my hands against the stones. What would I feel? What would I sense? I wondered.
“Idolatry”. I heard the word in my spirit with surprise. Looking around it appeared there were people here, sincere, devoted and believing that somehow God would hear their prayers and answer them because they were at a particular location. Some kissed the wall. Some sat and recited Scripture. When finished, some walked backwards away from the wall as if it embodied Holy God.
I sat and wrestled with God under the wall. What did it mean? Where these meaningless stones? Misled people? I’d been given some prayers to place in wall by friends, but now, should I? Was it a form of superstition that God was more likely to answer our prayers if they were placed on little papers in the wall?
Peace eventually came as I considered the beautiful God who is madly in love with us and loves to meet us where we are. Just as I can fondly remember the place my husband proposed to me, or special things we’ve done or places we’ve gone together, it isn’t sin to enjoy special places with God. But there is caution against superstition and idolatry.
God answers prayer wherever we are. I don’t have to be at the Wailing Wall to get His attention. I don’t have to say just the right prayer or have an especially anointed person pray for me to get answers.
But He does enjoy spending special times with us in places dear to His or our hearts. It’s fun to revisit the place my husband and I went on our first date, but it would be silly to think that he will love me more when we are at that location. You get the point.
Others on the team had powerful experiences with God at the wall. My assignment today wasn’t to worship cold stones, but the One with the warm heart of love for me.
Wherever you are today, He hears your cry, your prayer. You don’t have to travel around the world, stand in front of a wall or place your prayer there to be heard. Let Him hear your voice today!