"Satan demanded to have you...
but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail."
Luke 22:31-32 (ESV)
These are Jesus' words to Peter. Even before Peter knew he would need those prayers of intercession, Jesus knew and stood in the gap. Satan is always after God's gift of faith to us. He tries to destroy our faith, and us in the process.
"Satan demanded to have you that he might sift you like wheat." Satan had access to Peter's life. He was allowed to humble Peter and bring him to the brink of despair. "But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail." With Peter's denial of Jesus, his faith was shaken. But through Jesus' intercession and Peter's repentance, Peter was restored and commissioned by Jesus to strengthen those around him.
We have had the privilege of getting to know a young Native man local to our community. Listening to his story, one can clearly see the hand of God in his life, but that was not always clear to him. He comes from a broken home, one of ten children. He says his father left him with a pastor friend and his wife so he could pursue work and adds, "this man taught me how to pray and walked with me in developing my faith life." God's gift of faith to him was strengthened through this man's love and example.
Often, we are battered and bruised by the wiles of the enemy. We are sifted and shaken. We start to wonder if our faith is real. We feel dry, alone, empty, and dejected. That is when we most need to be reassured of God's love through His Word and encouragement and by the prayers of others. We need to be reminded Jesus is at the right hand of the Father, interceding for us. We need to be able to repent and hear our sins are forgiven. We need the constant fellowship of the Holy Spirit. We need the fellowship of the Body of Christ.
As we wait for Jesus' return, we can be comforted by His words, "My sheep know my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand." (John 10:27)
Father, thank you for your eternal love and care for us. Thank you for sending Jesus to make a way for our salvation. Help us to remember to pray for one another, exercising the gift of faith you have imparted to us. In Jesus' name, Amen.