|LightHouse Devotional Week 6 Day 6|
But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.
Have you ever professed devotion and steadfastness to the one you love the most and, at some point, been overcome by fear and a sense of self-preservation to the point where you completely abandon the person you were so devoted to only moments before? This is exactly what happened to Simon Peter the night his best friend was to be betrayed.
There are two amazing things about this passage. First, preceding this moment, Satan had asked to “sift Peter as wheat,” shredding his witness for Christ, abandoning all that the previous three years of intense teaching by Jesus had instilled in him, thereby reducing it to nothing. The next astounding thing is that Jesus already knew this… and prayed him through it anyway.
Why did Jesus do this? Because, through utter weakness and bitter circumstance, we grow and come out on the other side with an insight and compassion for prayer to help our brothers and sisters in the Lord when they, too, are in the vice of adversity. Intercessory prayer by other Christians is integral to receiving the protection of the Lord, comfort of the Holy Spirit, and joy in the knowledge that God hears our prayers and cares about the details of our lives.
Do you have a friend who struggles to keep a job, or is making some bad decisions that will torpedo a marriage or other important relationship? I do. Here my own story: twenty-five years of love and devotion were not enough to withstand five years of adversity common to many of us. Raising children in the Lord with complete motherly love, who were spirited and rebellious, financial reversal, blame, one partner letting go of the Lord’s hand and walking away, only to seek comfort outside the marriage with a less complicated and very willing partner, resulted in what felt like the ultimate betrayal. Worse, I faced false accusations, resulting in eviction from the only home I knew and being isolated from my children, my very heart.
The only comfort, the only answer, in that pit of despair was prayer and confessing to other believers the struggle of this person’s life. Did prayer result in the situation turning around? Not yet.
Like Job, I praise God for all He gives, even though everything was stolen away from me. I pray to God for both my estranged husband’s and my children’s hearts. I pray that those I love will find themselves in a sphere of influence filled with people who are completely sold-out to the Lord, and that my loved ones will come to know the Lord, be filled with remorse, and seek reconciliation.
I have learned so much from my devastating experience. God constantly provides for my needs and constantly comforts me in this difficult time. He consistently shows up and works out the fine details in His unique way. I have lain defeated before the Lord and He sustains me, raises me up, and gives me hope. My faith has grown so much that I know no matter how my travesty ends, through Him I will be better than okay. I know I am His and He will use me for His purposes. Regardless of what I know in the present, He will work things out for His perfect glory.
Jesus sets the example by praying his loved one through so that he will be able to strengthen his brothers. So we, too, would be wise to remember how we were lifted in prayer during crisis, and remember the sweet feeling of oneness with the Lord as He saved us from ourselves, or has forgiven us for our failings.
Jesus tells us plainly that we will have trouble in this world, but to take heart, because He has overcome this world. Through the intercessory prayer of other believers and Christ himself we are carried through our darkest moments.
Friends, time in prayer is never wasted, and should never be minimized. We know from James 5:16 that, through confession of our sins to each other and prayer for each other, we may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
Let us pray for one another and encourage each other to victory in the way that we can only be sure of – not in our own strength, but His.