“Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” And he said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death!” Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day, until you have denied three times that you know me.”
Reflection from Vince McGlothin-Eller:
“I have prayed for you.” I imagine this is something we would all want to hear Jesus say to us. Who doesn’t want to know that Jesus has prayed for them? But rather than something Jesus is saying to comfort Simon, it is obvious that this takes place in the middle of a conversation about what is to come.
“Simon, listen!” The Disciples are not paying attention…again. Jesus is trying to help them understand what is coming so that they will not be caught off guard. He is praying for them to be strengthened in advance of the heartache to come. But Simon cannot hear him. He is so caught up in his own ego he simply can’t hear what Jesus has to say. I can almost hear him blowing through his lips: “Pssssh! Jesus, I got this!”
But Jesus knows. “When once you have turned back.” He knows not only that Simon will turn away, but that he will return, that he will have to be the strong one who supports the others.
And that is the part of this that really resonates with me. Even knowing what is to come Jesus is not praying for himself, he is praying for others. He is praying for them that their faith will be strengthened and that they will be able to offer support to one another. This is what Jesus calls us to do as well. Our prayers for others should be to strengthen them and build them up. And just as Jesus tells Simon that he is to strengthen his brother, so our prayers should be followed by actual support for those who are hurting.
May we be strengthened in the face of our trials just as your Son prayed for us long ago. And may we use that strength to support and lift up others in need. It is in His example that we pray.