Luke 22:31-34 (ESV)
[Jesus said] “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.”
This conversation occurs just after the Last Supper meal that Jesus had with his disciples. Jesus warns Peter that Satan wants to destroy him, but reassures Peter by saying, “I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail.”
I have often found it so encouraging to have a Christian brother or sister tell me that they have prayed for me. It is also in my experience that when I tell someone that I have prayed for him or her, it lifts up his or her spirit.
Jesus prayed for Peter that his faith may not fail, and I believe that Jesus prays for us too today that our faith may not fail.
What did Jesus mean by this prayer? Was Jesus praying that Peter would not deny him 3 times later that night?
I do not think so. Jesus already predicted that Peter would indeed deny him 3 times that night. I believe Jesus was referring to the aftermath following Peter’s denial.
Following his denial of Jesus, Peter went out of the courtyard of the high priest’s house and wept bitterly (Luke 22:62). He felt intense guilt and remorse for his denial of his Master. Peter had betrayed the relationship he had with Jesus, and he wept, sensing his own sinfulness and unworthiness to be called a disciple of Jesus Christ. He had denied his Lord, and possibly now he felt that he was undeserving of being a disciple of Christ.
This was Peter’s crisis of faith. Would his faith fail, and the guilt overwhelm him, as it did in Judas’ case? Or was there a possibility of restoration for him?
Sometimes we are in similar crises like Peter. Through our sins, committed either willfully or negligently, we are faced with our own guilt and weakness. We feel unworthy to ever serve the Lord again. We see some whose faith fails and they fall away, never to return to serving the Lord.
Nevertheless, we have the promise that Jesus made to Peter. Jesus says, “I have prayed for you that your faith will not fail.”
Jesus predicts that Peter will indeed turn back. He said as a matter of fact “when you have turned back”. It is an assurance of Peter being restored to serving the Lord. We see that beautifully displayed in John chapter 21, where Jesus reinstates and fully restores Peter to ministry.
The same is true for us. Jesus knows that we will always have times when our faith is on the verge of failing. We have all sinned, giving in to temptations and grieving the Spirit of God. We feel intense guilt and remorse over our sin, over our past mistakes in life. We feel unworthy to ever serve God again.
But there is hope. Jesus knows what you are going through and he has prayed, and is praying for you, that your faith may not fail. Repent and turn back to God, as Peter did. Jesus told Peter then when he had returned, “strengthen the brothers”. God will restore us fully, and use us again for his ministry. He will not just let us remain on the shelf. God used Peter powerfully in the book of Acts to lead the church of God.
May God find us faithful! Turn back to God and He will restore us fully and use us for his kingdom work !