A few nights ago, in our family devotion time, we read what I believe is one of the most chilling sections in all of Scripture: Luke 22: 31-32. It reads, “And 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…’”
I may not know the exact process of sifting wheat during that time in history, but I do know the idea is to start with a grain of wheat, harvested from the field, and to end with a smooth flour fit for baking. Imagine this grain of wheat, ground, completely crushed, and still not finished until it’s sifted to powder. Now imagine that grain of wheat is replaced with a person’s soul.
This was Satan’s request. To take Peter, and not only crush him, but to grind him down completely. Though Satan may not have asked for me or you by name, he surely wants to do the same to us. This is the enemy we face, and yet, somehow, it’s easy to forget about him. Even though I’ve been warned in 1 Peter 5:8 that the devil “walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour,” I fail to fully comprehend the danger.
I’ve never had much cause to encounter a lion in my life, so best I can do is imagine what it would be like to look out the front window and see one prowling around the front yard. What I don’t have to imagine, however, is living across the street from two aggressive doberman pinschers, who strained at the leash any time we went outside to get the mail. It happened one day that their chains broke and both dogs were free to roam the neighborhood. My heart nearly gave out when I saw one in our yard, sniffing the daffodils. Let me tell you, I not only hustled my children inside the house, I kept a constant vigil at my window until animal control arrived.
This kind of vigilance is how I should guard my heart against Satan, yet because I can’t see the danger I often fool myself into thinking it’s not such a big deal – which of course only makes it more of a threat. The words of Jesus to Peter reminded me that this thinking couldn’t be farther from the truth. It was as if He said to me, “Debra, Debra, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat…” Reread that sentence and substitute my name with yours. If that’s not enough to make your blood run cold, I don’t know what will.
The good news is this chilling realization has me running straight to the arms of Jesus. Just as He prayed for Peter, so also He prays for me. If you read through the entire chapter of Luke 22, you’ll see Jesus was pretty busy when He received Satan’s request for Peter. The chief priests and scribes were plotting to kill Him in secret, Judas was conspiring to betray Him, Jesus Himself was preparing His disciples for replacing the old covenant (Passover) with the new (the Lord’s Supper), and in the midst of all this He knew the hour was at hand for His death. Yet despite all that weighed on His mind, He wasn’t thinking of himself, as I surely would’ve been. He wasn’t too busy or preoccupied to pray for Peter – that his faith not fail.
He’s not too busy for you or me either. He is our great High Priest, Who lives to pray continually that our faith may not fail. “Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” (Hebrews 2:17) He is our champion before God, our powerful Redeemer, who ever lives and always pleads for us before the Father. If that doesn’t comfort, reassure, and bring complete joy, I don’t know what will.
Yes, Satan is asking.
But, thank God, Jesus is praying.