Jesus prayed for His disciple, Peter, and specifically that Peter’s faith would not fail. What prompted Jesus to pray for Peter’s faith?–a request from Satan to sift Peter like wheat. Let us not miss the fact that Satan cannot do whatever he wants to Peter, permission had to be sought since Peter belonged to God by believing in Him. In God’s divine providence, there is a reason for this trial which is unseen at the time, but is extremely good; so hang with me to see what Peter does following the sifting!
Prior to the sifting, Jesus warns Peter about Satan’s request, and His warning begins with saying Peter’s name twice–much like a parent trying to get a child to listen closely. Jesus then tells Peter that He has prayed for him, that his faith would not fail. Next, Jesus requests of Peter to strengthen his brothers once he has turned back.
“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” –Jesus Luke 22:31-32
This was shocking news to Peter–turned back?! No way! Peter voices just this and counters Jesus with a resolve to never do such, confessing that he would go to prison and/or die for the sake of Jesus! Then comes details from Jesus that Peter would deny knowing Jesus three times in the next twelve hours.
Everything Jesus warned Peter about took place; Peter denied knowing Jesus, being a follower of Jesus, and even being from the same region as Jesus and His followers. With each question, his denial went a step further. Upon this realization, Peter was filled with regret, sorrow, and wept bitterly. Peter himself may have failed, BUT his faith did not fail; his faith faltered, but it remained intact. Jesus knew Peter would return to Him, which indeed he did.
How very important is our faith in Christ Jesus? It is important enough to be attacked, and important enough to be guarded and prayed over by Jesus. If you are a believer, can you look back on your life and see where Jesus must have been praying for you? The fact that Satan’s sifting did not crush Peter shows the result of Jesus’ effective prayers.
We may falter in our faith, and if we do, we should return to Jesus, as Peter modeled. Remember the action Jesus asked of Peter following this?–to strengthen his brothers in Christ, his fellow Christians. There was no stigma from Jesus, no shame, only strengthening. Peter now had a whole new perspective in which to share with others, encouraging others to be strong in their faith.
If you are a believer who is currently in a trial, a storm, a sifting, take heart! God will use your current circumstance to strengthen you and refine you, so you can grow in your faith, and in turn do the same for others around you with your new perspective. I know, I know, it is easier said than done, as I have been in several of those stormy experiences. This is EXACTLY why I want to model Peter’s actions by encouraging and strengthening others via the perspective of the storms I have endured.
So here is a bit of encouragement: above all, be assured, my brother, my sister, that Jesus is praying for you and that your faith may not fail. How awesome is that fact?! Pretty awesome, I would say!