INTRO: 1. ILL. C.S. Lewis was one of the greatest intellectuals to ever live. He was a Christian and a professor at Cambridge. His writings have led multitudes of thinkers to understand the brilliance of God and the christian faith. Once someone asked C.S. Lewis, "Why do the righteous suffer?" "Why not?" he replied. "They're the only ones who can take it."
a. What is it about the child of God that makes him or her able to face with victory the challenges that life will inevitably bring our way.
b. I am so tired of this "new" gospel that equates hardship with sin... We are designed by God and equipped by God's power as "more than conquerors"
c. This book is full of examples and keys to living victoriously but this morning I want to focus on one often overlooked key.
2. This house is filled with people this morning who would bear witness to the fact that there were situations that they’d been through that they’d never had been able to face and handle if someone had not been praying for them.
a. Those in our lives we have confidence in their prayers and their relationship with God, scores of answered prayers in their lives.
b. We can never underestimate the power of prayer warriors in our life.
3. But on top of all their prayers, Jesus wants us to know what he told Simon Peter that day… “but, I have prayed for thee.”
a. No one can pray for you like Jesus is praying for you.
b. No one knows the details of your need like Jesus does.
c. No one can feel your pain like Jesus does.
c. No one can get in touch with the father like Jesus… at His right hand.
d. No one can have faith like Jesus.
4. As a child of God you don’t just have intercessors in your life… you have THE intercessor in your life.
Heb. 7:25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.
a. It’s a constant work… “he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”
b. A message that as believer’s we need to embrace more and more in a world where trouble seems overwhelming.
5. Notice the timing of Jesus in revealing this bad news to Simon Peter… it was after promising the disciples they would rule with Him on thrones over the twelve tribes of Israel.
a. Imagine the humiliation that must have struck the heart of Simon as he heard such a personal indictment.
b. How could he say I will deny him, after all I’ve done to prove my love?!
c. One thing is clear Simon would only hear part of the message Jesus had given him.
d. I believe that Simon Peter misses the most powerful message of this entire conversation… “But I have prayed for thee”
e. He had become their intercessor long before they knew it.
6. This revelation is past tense “I have prayed.”
a. Jesus has already confronted what you will have to face.
b. You will face the devil himself…But I have prayed for you.
c. You will face violence of being sifted by hell… But I have prayed for you.
d. You will even fail miserably… But I have prayed for you.
e. You will even refuse to believe what I’m saying… But I have prayed for you.
f. No matter where you’re at this morning, or what you’re facing this morning it’s time to hear the word of the Lord… “But I have prayed for you!”
g. His prays reach much farther than your current condition, He's already prayed for what you’re about to go through.
7. This morning I want us to discover what this passage reveals to us about the prayers Jesus prays for you.
I. WHAT JESUS KNEW WHEN HE PRAYED.
a. If our eyes could be opened to what’s ahead of us… we would surely pray more.
b. But, Praise God, there is one who looks ahead of me and he knows everything I need to know, and He’s already prayed the prayer of faith on my behalf.
c. Only Jesus could pray, like Jesus prays, because only Jesus knows what Jesus knows.
A. JESUS KNOWS THE DEVIL’S STRATEGY FOR US ALL.
1. The word “you” in verse 31 is a greek plural word meaning that he was saying to all of the disciples that the devil is out for their destruction.
2. Time to realize that the Devil has plans for you—plans of destruction and devastation.
3. If that was the end of the story, we would have no hope… “But I have prayed for thee.”
4. There’s nothing hidden from the mind of Christ, even the plans of Satan himself.
5. The devil may take you by surprise… but Praise God he will never take God by surprise.
6. As a matter of fact, the book of Job reveals that before Satan can touch God’s property he must get permission down to the smallest detail.
7. If trouble comes your way as a child of God, be certain of two things…first Jesus has already prayed for you and the devil is already on a short leash.
B. JESUS KNOWS THE DEVIL’S METHOD
1. He revealed to Simon Peter even the very method that the devil would use.
Vs. 31 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:
2. ILL. (Illustrate with a kitchen sifter) As a child I loved to play with my mom’s sifter with the hand crank. I wanted so badly to take it outside and try it out in the dirt…but knew that Momma would give me an old-fashioned whipping if I did. It became obvious to me watching momma use it that with each crank more flour would break up and more would fall through the screen.
3. Sometimes when we find ourselves in Satan’s sifter we wonder, if there will be anything left of us when it’s all over.
4. In those days before they sacked up the grain, would put the wheat through a process of sifting… first they’d break and sift the wheat by rubbing them in their hands, then they’d put the grain in a box with a lid with a screen as a top then they’d turn the box upside down and violently shake the box so that the chaff would fall through the screen, but the wheat kernels would remain.
5. First sifting is done by hand, breaking the wheat, rubbing between their hands. (wheat)
6. The devil likes to get his hands into your everyday affairs…breaking areas apart, causing friction, strife and pain.
7. But just when we think it’s as bad as it going to get… the devil turns our lives upside down and shakes it with all the power and force of hell.
8. Sifting means to be shocked by the sudden agitation of unexpected trials.
9. The devil knows just how to sift you…knows the areas of your life that causes the most heartache that touches you deepest. (family, finances, health, future)
10. The devil knows your weak points where you have failed before.
11. But, Praise God, Jesus knows the methods the Devil will use and His prayers understand.
C. JESUS KNOW THE DEVIL’S TARGET… YOUR FAITH
1. You may think he’s out for your health, for your wealth, for your sanity… but what He’s really out for is your faith.
2. It’s the only thing that truly threatens the kingdom of darkness.
3. We don’t have the slightest idea of the value and power of faith in our life.
4. He’s hoping you will let bitterness in your heart toward God.
5. He’s betting on you throwing in the towel and giving up.
6. Give the devil a black eye this morning and throw up the shield of faith and it will quench (that is make of no effect) every fiery dart.
7. Don’t worry about your finances, family or future… that’s God’s arena…guard your faith.
ILL. A man told of his experience with his daughter when she was about 5 years old: We went to spend an afternoon at a river. Some of the adults decided to walk out to an island in the middle of the river. My daughter wanted to come out with me. I returned to shore and took her hand. She stepped into the water but held on tightly to a branch on the shore. She was afraid of the river but wanted to go where I was going. I told her, “You must let go of the branch if you want to come”. She said that she was afraid that she would sink. “I have your hand. You won’t sink and if you start to, I will lift you up”. Fearfully she let go of the branch. I knew the water was just over waist deep and I guided her feet to each rock. When we began, she had no confidence, but she stepped on the rocks I guided her to. With each step she gained more confidence until she was eagerly reaching for each stone and soon we reached the middle. I looked back and realized that this is exactly how God deals with me.
8. God’s trying to get some of us to let go of some things and others he’s trying to get your eyes off the raging river you’re in and focus on the fact that God’s got you by the hand and there is nothing He can’t face and pull you up out of.
D. JESUS KNOWS YOUR LIMITS.
1. There are a few things that Jesus knows about you that you don’t know about yourself.
2. Although in verse 28 the word “you” is plural in verse 32 the word “you” is singular… Jesus is letting Peter know that he has specifically prayed for Him.
3. I know I don’t have to remind you that you can’t overcome the devil on your own, but I have the confidence that I have the prayer of the great intercessor backing me up.
4. He knows my limits… sometimes he will even allow me to be stretched beyond what I think I can take.
E. JESUS KNOWS WHAT YOU’RE MADE OF
1. You see the sifting will bring the wheat out from among the chaff.
2. The devil is betting that you’re nothing but chaff, nothing but a tare, that there’s nothing in you that will survive his sifting.
3. The devil thought the same of Job.
4. But when the sifting was all said and done…Job came forth as gold.
5. God will even use the devil to strip your life of the useless chaff that has attached itself to you, so that all can see the genuine work that faith has done in your life.
6. Sometimes the tests will merely uncover what is holding me back and hindering my life.
II. WHAT JESUS ASKED WHEN HE PRAYED
a. I found it interesting that of all the things that Jesus prayed for, he never prayed to keep Peter out of the sifting.
b. Jesus knows that the sifting of the wheat is inevitable… even essential.
c. Like the wheat we cannot be used until we’ve been through Satan’s sifter.
d. There are three reason for sifting in our lives.
1) To silence Satan (as in Job’s case).
2) To develop sympathy in our hearts for others.
3) To deal with weak areas in our lives. (For Simon it was pride and self-righteousness)
e. Let’s look at what Jesus prayed for in Peter’s life.
A. HE PRAYED FOR PETER’S FAITH
Vs. 32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.
1. Not that Peter fail not… but that his faith fail not.
2. Jesus knew as long as you have faith, you can rebound from failures in your life.
ILL. Thomas Edison invented the microphone, the phonograph, the incandescent light, the storage battery, talking movies, and more than 1000 other things. December 1914 he had worked for 10 years on a storage battery. This had greatly strained his finances. This particular evening spontaneous combustion had broken out in the film room. Within minutes all the packing compounds, celluloid for records and film, and other flammable goods were in flames. Fire companies from eight surrounding towns arrived, but the heat was so intense and the water pressure so low that the attempt to douse the flames was futile. Everything was destroyed. Edison was 67. With all his assets going up in a whoosh (although the damage exceeded two million dollars, the buildings were only insured for $238,000 because they were made of concrete and thought to be fireproof), would his spirit be broken? The inventor’s 24-year old son, Charles, searched frantically for his father. He finally found him, calmly watching the fire, his face glowing in the reflection, his white hair blowing in the wind. "My heart ached for him," said Charles. "He was 67--no longer a young man--and everything was going up in flames. When he saw me, he shouted, ’Charles, where’s your mother?’ When I told him I didn’t know, he said, ’Find her. Bring her here. She will never see anything like this as long as she lives.’" Next morning, he looked at the ruins & said, "There is great value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up. Thank God we can start anew." 3 weeks later, Edison delivered the first phonograph.
3. When we have faith we can even find value in failure.
4. But if your faith fail then failure will be final.
5. He didn’t pray for great faith… just faith.
6. You may not have a lot of faith left, like Peter it may be weak faith… But hold onto the faith you’ve got… God’s gonna bring you out.
B. HE PRAYED FOR PETER’S INFLUENCE
1. While the other disciples couldn’t see Peter’s potential in the kingdom there were two that understood it perfectly… God and Satan.
2. When the devil wants to do his greatest damage he will target those who have the greatest influence in hopes that making one fall he can make many fall.
ILL. When I was in high school I attending a vocational school that was called the Daniel Morgan Vocational School. It was only recently that I stumbled upon the significance of this man named Daniel Morgan. In the revolutionary war he commanded a unit that become known as Morgan’s raiders. It was his strategy that led to the turning point in what became known as the Battle of Saratoga. Morgan told his riflemen, “forget the poor fellows who fight for six pence a day. Concentrate your fire on the officers. In fact, try your best to hit the insignias they wear on their shoulders.: As a result of these orders, the british ranks became so depleted and confused that they eventually surrendered.
3. The devil’s strategy is to destroy not only your faith but the influence your faith holds.
4. Fathers, the devil is out to make you fall so your family will follow suite.
5. Church leaders, the devil has made you the target of all manner of sifting so that your faith will fail and your church will follow suite.
6. Child of God, you are the devil’s number one enemy, if you fall the world can point their finger and declare… “I knew there was nothing to that christian stuff!”
7. But, praise God when you think you’re ready to quit remember the words of Christ… “But I have prayed for you."
8. He knows your potential for greater influence so keep the faith.
III. WHAT JESUS EXPECTED WHEN HE PRAYED
a. Jesus doesn’t pray weak prayers… His are powered by a faith that expects an answer.
b. He declares as a matter of fact to Simon…
Vs. 32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.
c. Jesus didn’t say “if” you’re converted, but “when thou art converted.”
d. Jesus has faith in you, child of God, because he has faith in His prayers over you.
A. HE EXPECTED THE SIFTING TO PURGE PETER’S FAITH
1. You see the sifting didn’t destroy Peter’s faith, but it caused the chaff of his life to be exposed and separated from his life.
2. Pride needed to be purged from Peter’s faith.
3. Peter was broken by the experience
Luke 22:62 And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.
4. What is it that may be contaminating your faith… preventing you from growing in faith?
5. But I believe in his brokenness the Holy Spirit brought back to his memory the words he had overlooked before… “But I have prayed for thee.”
6. He remembered the promise of restoration.
7. The sifting purged His independent spirit so he could learn the power of depending on God.
8. God will take the trash out of our lives so he can reveal the treasure in our lives.
B. HE EXPECTED THE SIFTING TO STRENGTHEN PETER’S FUTURE
Heb. 12:27 And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.
1. Let me attest that failure is not always failure… if we respond the right way even to our failure… if we let that failure produce in us a real change.
2. The shaking will only reveal those areas in your life that is unshakable.
3. God allows the sifting to prepare us for what we will face tomorrow.
ILL. Charles F. Kettering said, "No one would ever have crossed the ocean if he could have gotten off the ship in the storm."
C. HE EXPECTED PETER’S SIFTING TO STRENGTHEN THE CHURCH
Vs. 32 …when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.
1. In other words, you victory isn’t for you to horde and sit back and praise God, it’s to be an encouragement for those who are still in the sifter.
2. The strengthened becomes the strengtheners.
3. Sometimes God will deal with you directly and strengthen you, but most often He’ll send someone your way that has been where you are and will give you an encouraging word and remind you… Jesus has prayed for you.
CONCLUSION: What are you facing today? Your problem may not be on the pastor’s prayer list… but it is on His prayer list.