“‘Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.’ And he said to Him, ‘Lord, with you I am ready to go both to prison and to death!’ And He said, ‘I say to you, Peter, the cock will not crow today until you have denied three times that you know Me’” (Luke 22:31-34).

Sift You Like Wheat

“The word ‘sifting,’ when applied to men, sounds gruesome. It reminds me of the little hand sifter my mother had when I was a kid. This contraption consisted of a metal cylinder with a metal mesh stretched across its circumference toward the bottom of the inside. Just above the mesh, a thin whip turned by an outside crank would noisily scrape the sides of the cylinder and the metal mesh. Mom poured in the flour, and it came out the other end all fluffy in the bowl under the sifter, and a residue of unwanted matter left on the mesh. In other words, sifting involves fragmentation” (“Sifting”,, Andree Seu). There is a big difference between God allowing us to go through trials and Satan sifting us. God permits suffering because He wants us to learn lessons from it and perfect our faith (2 Corinthians 4:17-18). His concern is for our growth and spiritual development (James 1:2-4). When we are put through trials by God it is because he is trying to bring out the best in us (Romans 5:3-5, 1 Peter 1:6-8) by separating out the bad. Satan, though, has no interest in such things. By “sifting” us in his own manner, he is trying to dispose of the good and dwell on the bad. He wants to run us through a meat-grinder. He wants nothing good to be left of us – only chaff, broken sticks, bits of rock and debris. He wants us left feeling bitter, self-pitying, victimized.

I Have Prayed For You

What a contrast from the father of lies (John 8:44)! While Satan is demanding an opportunity to throw Peter into a meat-grinder, Jesus is offering a simple, beautiful prayer on his behalf. Satan delights in our failure, Christ cheers for our victory.

When Once You Have Turned Again

Does this statement mean that Jesus’ prayer failed? How can He pray for Peter’s faith while at the same time predicting that it would be shaken? Personal responsibility plays a big part in how our lives turn out. While we might have absolutely no control over the stimulation (lost job, house burned down, cancer diagnosis, etc.), it is our job to determine a response. The really reassuring part is that Jesus knows us well enough that even when we fail for the moment, the broken pieces of our faith can always be repaired.