Jesus Engages in Spiritual Warfare Prayer
By Eddie Smith
Then the Lord said, "Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has demanded to have you apostles for himself. He wants to separate you from me as a farmer separates wheat from husks. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith will not fail. So when you recover, strengthen the other disciples." (Luke 22:31-32, GW).
Almost 2,000 years after Jesus said these words to Simon Peter, some Christians continue to debate the validity of spiritual warfare prayer.
However, I suspect that those who argue against spiritual warfare prayer argue less with Scripture and more with some of our models and methods. They would say, "Perhaps spiritual warfare prayer is valid, but what that group is doing can't possibly be it!" And, in some cases, they may be correct.
There are some things about these two verses that I find particularly interesting.
First, notice that Jesus is so in touch with heaven (because of His own intimate prayer life) that He knew what Satan had demanded of the Father.
Remember, Jesus was completely dependent upon the Father (see John 5:19). Without his daily "military intelligence report" from heaven, Jesus was helpless. He admitted that He could do nothing. So, whatever true spiritual warfare prayer is, it's absolutely heaven-dependent. When it comes to spiritual warfare, what Satan is doing today is not be nearly as important as what God is doing!
Second, look at what Satan really wanted. We know that Satan's job description is "to steal, to kill, and to destroy" (see John 10:10). Jesus said that Satan wanted to sift Peter (and the other disciples) like a farmer separates the wheat from the husks. But look what Satan was actually after. He wanted to separate the Apostles from Jesus! His war strategy was "divide and conquer."
Third, Jesus said, "But…I have prayed for you." No doubt Peter breathed a big sigh of relief at this point. He must have thought to himself, What a relief. For a minute there it sounded like I was going to be sifted, whatever that means.
If so, his relief was short lived, for Jesus continued, "I have prayed that your faith won't fail you during the sifting." What? "During the sifting!?" "Why didn't you pray that I wouldn't be sifted!?"
Again, Christ's praying wasn't based on Satan's agenda. His praying was based on God's agenda. And at the time, God was developing Apostles. And Apostles, like you and me, are forged in the fiery furnace of affliction. At times, God will even allow the enemy to do things, in order to accomplish His purposes.
Finally, you will see that Jesus had no doubt about Peter's ultimate victory. Why would He? After all, He had prayed in faith for Peter's faith not to fail. So, he confidently says, "So when (not if) you recover, strengthen the other disciples!"
What are you facing today? What is God saying and doing concerning it? Discover that, and pray accordingly!