The Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. “But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” (Luke 22:31 NKJV)
[“Asked for you” “Desired” = Greek: demanded for trial.]
[“Prayed” = Greek: to beg (as binding oneself), petition:--beseech, pray (to), make request]
When Jesus looked at Peter and told him that Satan had demanded to have Peter for trial—to sift Peter like wheat, he was given permission. Satan is only given permission to sift us if there is something that needs to be sifted. But Jesus prayed for Peter and Jesus prays for us, while we are being sifted. What did He pray for?
That Peter’s faith would not fail.
Was he referring to Peter’s faith in Jesus? No, Peter knew Jesus, he had made the unforgettable confession that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of the Living God—no, Peter believed in Him, and Peter believed Him. What was the thing that would cause Peter’s faith to fail? I believe it was that after such a deep and terrible sin—denying that he even knew Jesus, at the very moment that Jesus was being tortured for his sins, Peter was in danger of believing that he had committed sin that Jesus could never forgive; that the call on his life was over because such a thing could never be forgiven and he could never be used again by God. He was in that dangerous place that so many of us have come to:
“I have gone too far.”
“I can’t come back.”
“It’s too late for me.”
“God can’t possibly forgive this”.
“He will never be able to use me again.”
Jesus prayed for Peter that his faith would not fail.
The end of that passage shows the prayer request that Jesus made, and which He confirmed in John 21, after the resurrection: When you have returned to Me, you will be a mighty and powerful testimony to those who have also failed Me; that no matter how far your sin has taken you—nothing is too great for Me to forgive you, and I can use it—I can use it to strengthen others in the faith; I can redeem even this! I can bring something beautiful even from these ashes.
You will strengthen the brethren; you willbe used by Me in ways you could never imagine and the reason for the sifting is so that from this point forward, you will never again feel superior to the brethren, you will never again point the finger at those who fail and fall into sin, you will never again compare yourself to them and elevate yourself by condemning them, you will always remember that you too were capable of something like this and that I am a God who loves and who forgives—no matter how bad you fell.”