Luke 22:32 (ESV) but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”
As I began to turn away from God as a preteen, my Mum noticed a change in me. She didn’t know what lay at the root, but she could see my confidence waning more and more and began praying with her best friend for God to restore my confidence.
Through my teenage years, I changed from an exuberant, outgoing child, into a child who began to hide out in books and in fear and shame. Interestingly, even the books I began to read, by Catherine Cookson, were full of characters who lived in fear and shame. Cookson recorded the fictional stories of women who had been sexually and physically abused in graphic detail. I empathized deeply with each of these women’s plights.
I now know why. I saw myself in them. Although I do not know the horror of sexual or physical abuse, I do know the horror of spiritual abuse. For, I know (as I am sure you do also) what it is to be sifted like wheat by the devil. His whispers of deceit were sent to steal, kill and destroy. But little did he realize that all he was doing was ultimately causing me to die to myself that I might arise in Christ, revealing the power of Christ’s intercession for me.
The book Hebrews in the Bible tells us about our Great High Priest, Jesus, who (Hebrews 7:24-25, ESV): “holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.”
I now know, because of John 17 that Jesus prayed for me, even before I was born. He began interceding for me, even before the confession of faith that was birthed in me as a little four year-old in response to my Heavenly Father calling me unto Himself.
Because of that confession, “[I], who [was] dead in [my] trespasses and the uncircumcision of [my] flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven [me] all [my] trespasses. By canceling the record of debt that stood against [me] with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” (Colossians 2:13-15, ESV).
This meant that even as I fell into sin and blindness as a teenager and walked out a Prodigal path into adulthood, my true life remained hidden in Christ. For, Christ stood in the gap for me in my sin, as He lay in agony on the Cross. He covered my every sin – past, present and future – in His blood and righteousness. This meant that as He patiently labored in me, and in and through others, to lead me to repentance, through His kindness to me, I remained protected from the wrath of God I deserved.
For, God the Father heard His Son’s prayers for me, just as He did for Peter. No, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9, ESV). May God forgive me for every time I have seen Him as being slow to restore my loved ones unto Him. He was patient with me and He is being patient with those I love also. He knows the perfect timing to unfold the Promise and birth our faith anew in Christ alone.
Now, my confidence is returning. A confidence that is rooted in God’s ability to complete the good work He began in me, as He continues to sanctify me in His truth daily. I praise God for Christ’s intercession through my mother and her best friend. My Heavenly Father heard my mother’s and her best friend’s cries: for they were the very cries of His Son, Jesus, in them.
Have you too noticed the confidence of your Prodigal loved ones waning? Have they been exhibiting the symptoms of trauma: fighting or fleeing? Remember, we do not wage war against the flesh, but against the powers of darkness that seek to keep our loved ones chained in sin.
Can you ask the LORD to pour out His balm of comfort, as their fighting and/or fleeing hurts your own heart or frustrates you? May He shower you in His kindness and mercy that you might pour that same perfect love out on your loved ones, by the power of the Holy Spirit, just as my parents did through my Prodigal journey. May He continually speak a good Word straight into your situation and into the depths of your heart that lifts the heaviness of your burden and makes your heart glad.
As we read the Scripture below, aloud, what word or phrase lingers? Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to reveal why it lingers and what God our Father wants us to see, know or do in response to His Word to us.
John 17:9-26 (ESV)
9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.
20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”