For the entire forty years I have been a Christian, I have heard both Jews and Christians say, "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem." And because it says that very thing in the Word of God, I have accepted the call for prayer as my duty. Not only have I prayed for Jerusalem because I believed God wanted me to, I also did so because I wanted to be blessed. God promised to reward those who pray for it in the rest of the verse which says, "they shall prosper who love thee" (Ps. 122:6). In a country where being prosperous is given more attention than being obedient to God, praying for the peace of a city seems like the natural thing to do.
But lately, I have begun to think about the admonition as being inconsistent with the rest of God's Word. From my study of Bible Prophecy, I have come to understand that Jerusalem will not live in peace until the seven-year peace treaty signed between Israel and the antichrist, which he breaks half way through it (Dan. 9:27; Matt. 24:4-21; Rev. 6-19, esp. 11:3; 12:14; and 13:5). With the exception of the false peace lasting only three and one half years, the city will be trodden down by the Gentiles (Lk. 21:24). True peace follows the Tribulation when Jesus returns to establish His kingdom (Matt. 25:1-46; Rev. 19:11-20:6). It will be interrupted for "a little season" when Satan is loosed to make war on God's people (Rev. 20:3, 7-9).
The obvious question then, is why does the Psalm tell the readers to pray for the peace of Jerusalem? The answer is found in the context of the verse. Quoting The New Scofield Reference Bible, "Fifteen Psalms (Ps. 120-134) are called 'Songs of Ascents,' 'ascents' being the correct rendering of the word 'degrees.' The view most generally accepted is that these Psalms were either sung by pilgrims on the ascending march from Babylonian captivity to Jerusalem, or that they were sung by worshipers from all parts of Palestine as they went up to Jerusalem for the great festivals (Deut. 16:16)...." Israel was unaware of the gap in time between their being released from Babylon and the coming of their Messiah to establish His kingdom (Mk. 4:11; Rom. 11:25; 16:25; 1 Cor. 2:7-8; Eph. 3;3-9; etc.). In praying for the peace of Jerusalem, they envisioned the Messianic kingdom as the next event on God's time-table. By praying for the peace of Jerusalem, they were praying for their Messiah to come.
Praying for the peace of Jerusalem is a lot like praying to have a child; in order to arrive at the end goal, there is much suffering that must be experienced first. Jesus compared it to the pain of giving birth (Matt. 24:8; Jn. 16:21; 1 Thes. 5:3; Rev. 12:2). Yes, I believe we should pray for the peace of Jerusalem, but in doing so, we must realize we are also praying for the world to suffer like it has never suffered before. It is like Jesus wanting to redeem mankind, all the while knowing that there must be a cross before there is a crown. When the Church prays "Maranatha," we should also pray for those who must face the Great Tribulation first. Peace always comes at a price.