Tuesday, June 25, 2013

"I have prayed for you..."

"But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers." (Luke 22:32)

So often, we are given the impression that a true Christian has a faith that is never shaken. To be a true believer, someone God can use for great things, you have to be someone who is walking forward on the right path at all times, never distracted or sidetracked or a bit lost.

It seems tied in to the same train of thought that says a Christian should never question God, something I've come to disagree with (you can read my thoughts on that over here).

There's this guy in the Bible, though, who seems to go against just about every description of a Christian that we cling to so faithfully. In the Scriptures he comes across as impulsive, hotheaded, and a bit short-fused. At the end of the Last Supper, we see him arguing with Jesus. In the garden, he cuts a guy's ear off. While Jesus us being questioned by Caiaphas, this guy is down in the courtyard denying he ever even knew Jesus.

Yeah, I'm talking about Simon Peter again, that guy who stepped out of the boat only to start sinking.

The guy who answered Jesus's question of "Who do you say I am?" with, "You are the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God."

The guy Jesus named Peter, the rock.

Even then, when He said that Peter would become the foundation upon which He would build the church, Jesus knew what was in store for Peter. He knew Peter would deny even so much as knowing Him, and I'm sure it cut Him deeply:
not just the fact that He would be hurt by Peter's denial, but the knowledge that Peter would be hurt, too.

Just like He knows what each of us will face, He knew what lay ahead for Peter. He knew he would turn away--and He prayed for him.

Isn't that an amazing thought, the Messiah praying personally for someone?
What makes it even more incredible is the knowledge that He prayed for all believers.

And I don't think it was a quick, all encompassing prayer like we see in John 17, where the red letters spell out Jesus's prayer in the garden the night He was betrayed and arrested. Though that prayer definitely isn't short, it wouldn't last hours into the night and be something the disciples had time to repeatedly fall asleep during. I can't say this is true, but I like to think He saw each and every one of us flash across His mind that night as He prayed for "those who will believe."

That's more than enough, but it isn't all that stands out to me about what Jesus tells Peter here.

When someone turns away for a moment, it is easy for other Christians to say that person's faith has failed. But here is Jesus, saying that Peter would turn back to Him. He also prayed that Peter's faith wouldn't fail, so I believe that can only mean that Peter's faith held its ground despite his denial. You can't turn back without first turning away, so I would say that tells us that we can turn away for a time without it meaning our faith has failed.

So if you find yourself in that place, the dark night during which you have turned your back on the One who went to the cross for you, remember that He prayed for you, that your faith may not fail. It may be shaken, but it is on a foundation firm enough that all of creation was built on it.

And when you turn back, use your story to strengthen others.

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