In listening to the news these days, the hatred for the state of Israel globally cannot be misunderstood. A recent headline in the Times of Israel read: "Welcome to Our Bizarre Planet Where Israel is the Most Hated Country Next to North Korea, Pakistan and Iran."
Yet another headline read: "What's the Real Reason So Many People Hate Israel?" While it's true that anti-Semitism around the world exists, Mike Bickle, the founder of the International House Prayer (IHOPKC), wants people to know that there is also a love for Israel that many aren't aware of.
That became abundantly clear last month when more than 12,000 ministries signed up to participate in the Isaiah 62 Fast that led people to fast for Israel and to pray for the country for at least one hour a day over the course of three consecutive weeks.
In the beginning, Bickle and his team were hoping for less than 1/10 of number to take part in the global event. But 12,000?
"This was very mind-blowing to us," Bickle told Charisma News' John Matarazzo in a recent interview. "We would have thought that 1,000 would have been amazing, historic. It was in over 120 nations and in well over 120 languages. I don't know the exact count, and I really don't even care because we were doing the praying and fasting.
"Here at IHOP, we devoted all 24 hours a day, every two-hour prayer meeting ... that's 12 a day and 84 a week. That's 252 in three weeks—252, two-hour prayer meetings—all for Israel. We've never done anything like that. I even warned our people that it might be boring, but it wasn't. I just thought it might be. And the reason it wasn't was because every two-hour prayer meeting was led by a worship team of about 10 people. When you get anointed singers and musicians, it makes a boring prayer meeting not boring. It was so moving."
Not caring about numbers doesn't make Bickle or his team callous, mind you. It's simply the fact that millions of people were taking part in the event worldwide, and that made for a pretty incredible prayer covering for a nation that is not only on the brink of a civil war, but has Muslim neighbors all around it that want to see the country eliminated from the global map.
"The fact is, nothing like this has ever happened in history before," Bickle says. "We have House of Prayer statisticians that know how many prayer networks there were in South Africa. They know how many there were in Europe. I don't know how in the world they keep up with that, but they do.
"I asked different groups, has there ever been a time where 10,000 Gentiles prayed for Israel for 10 straight days in a concerted effort that we know of. Each person I asked said no, there has not even been a hint of that. So, not 10,000 people for 10 days, but 5 million for 21 days.
"Brazil really jumped in on it. In Latin America, we had quite a few Zoom calls with Spanish-speaking ministries with 100 mega ministries with millions of believers under them. They were all in. We had some in Italy and Japan—a whole network of Japanese believers. In China, they were all in there, and then Russia and Ukraine, two different sets of networks."
The scope of what God told Bickle and his team to do and where to go turned out to be "mind blowing." The anointing on the project was very clear, and it blossomed in such a quick period of time all around the world.
So, what kind of impact has the Isaiah 62 Fast had on Israel? Bickle says he isn't quite sure of that just yet, but he believes the manifestations of these prayers will take hold in the near future.
"Shifts happen in ways you can't tell the day after something like this," Bickle says. "You know, somebody gets prayed for when they are sick and their body gets healed that day, it's easy to tell. But shifting of nations, it's a little more nuanced and complicated and hidden.
"At first with this project I said, 'wow, this exciting.' But then I began to say, 'wow, this is alarming.' This many Gentiles praying for Israel, why is it happening? ... Heaven is making a pre-emptive strike in the Spirit. There is also a release of glory because God did it."
Much of the prayer that emanated from the millions interceding for Israel came because of Iran's desire to destroy Israel. And with Iran very close to obtaining working nuclear weapons, the threat to Israel becomes more and more dire every day.
Bickle says that there are only two times in history when Persia (modern-day Iran) has been a world power. The first came in the days of Daniel. In Daniel 10, Daniel also conducted 21 days of prayer and fasting, and that stopped Persia's dominance of Israel.
"Iran—who is not threatening to hurt Israel but promising to hurt Israel— [saying]we will destroy you. Iran has a nuclear weapon with a public promise to destroy Israel. ... But what if Iran has a meltdown of their government because it is being challenged by the people? What if they have a cave-in of some sort? I am sure these 5 million believers praying for 21 days ... because Daniel stopped that 2,500 years ago.
"I'm getting a little ahead of myself because it hasn't been stopped yet, but I know there is pushback coming from the government against each other. So, that's one thing that can happen."
Only God knows what will happen in the future. But with millions of people praying worldwide for Israel, you can bet that God was listening and that the prayers of these people that participated in the Isaiah 62 Fast won't come back void.
Shawn A. Akers is the online editor for Charisma Media.
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