"Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers" (Luke 22:31-32)
Has a passage of scripture ever knocked you over the head as if it were a baseball bat? Recently in my Monday night small group I stumbled over this passage as we were discussing the strengths and weaknesses of Peter while reading the book "Twelve Ordinary Men" and since then, this verse has given me many moments of reflection.
In this passage, Jesus is telling Simon Peter that he is about to go through some intense testing at the request of Satan. The Disciples are reclining at the table partaking in the Last Supper. They had been arguing over which one of them would be the greatest and the Lord turns to Peter and tells him that Satan has specifically asked His permission to shake him to the very core.
Satan was very explicit as to what his intent with Peter was. He asked Jesus for permission to sift him as wheat. This is the process of tossing wheat into the air so that the chaff would blow away with the wind. I can imagine that this process is somewhat taxing on the fragile wheat, but it is a necessary procedure to get rid of the unwanted portions that were of no use leaving the wheat in pure form.
What I find the most interesting is that Jesus gives Satan the permission he seeks but reassures Peter in the process that He would be praying for him through this testing. Then, He reassures him that he would survive the testing and lastly, He reassures him that when it was over he would strengthen his fellow disciples, and live up to the nickname Jesus had given him… Rock.
How thankful I am that Jesus prayed for Peter during these trials. This testing brought forth the most devastating event in Peter's life, denying any association with Jesus during His trial and crucifixion. But because Jesus had prayed for Peter these events were soon followed by one of his most glorious victories… preaching on the day of Pentecost when over three thousand people came to the Lord.
I am reminded now, that in our own church family we have been going through some intense testing… physically, mentally and spiritually. When we ourselves struggle it is easy to seek counsel and prayer from our beloved Pastors, but what happens when they go through it.
Because of Jesus, we have the privilege to intercede to the Father on their behalf? Have you placed enough importance praying daily for them? Do you pray for God to bless them financially, relationally and spiritually? Do you pray for the wisdom to lead this church? Do you pray for an understanding of the Bible and an ability to preach these truths fearlessly? Do you pray for protection from temptation? Do you pray for compassion for the lost and passion to serve the Lord faithfully? Do you pray for their children?
Did you know that our Pastors will give an account to the Lord on our behalf because God has entrusted them with His most precious possessions… The church and each one of it's members. Today, I challenge you to make a habit of praying for your pastors.Then watch how God blesses them and the church through your faithful prayers.