June 3, Octavius Winslow, Morning Thoughts
But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: – Luke 22:32
The Lord as its Shepherd goes before His flock. He precedes it every step, not only to map its path, but also to provide for all the circumstances, the most trivial and minute, of its history. To Him nothing can be unforeseen; from Him nothing can be concealed. No event can surprise Him, no contingency can thwart Him, and no difficulty can embarrass Him. The entire history of the individual saint of God, from his earliest to his latest breath, is written in His book, when as yet it had no existence, as minutely and as accurately as though it were a record of the past. In anticipation of each developed circumstance, of each temptation and trial, difficulty and need, Jesus prays for His people “I have prayed.” It would seem as if the sorrow had reached His heart before it touched our own; as if the assault had fallen upon Him before it fell upon us; and that, knowing what would transpire, seeing in what critical and painful circumstances His child would be placed, He anticipates his case by especial intercession on his behalf: “I have prayed for you.”
Can the mind of the tried believer repose upon a truth more sustaining and soothing than this? It had been a glorious unfolding of the love of Jesus, to know that when the sifting came, when faith was actually tried, that then Jesus prayed for the sufferer. But to be assured that before a dart was winged, or a shock was felt, or even a suspicion was awakened that the tempter was approaching, and that danger was near, Jesus, robed in His priestly garments, and bearing the golden censer in His hand, had entered within the veil to make especial intercession for that trial of faith– oh, it is a view of His love, which to the mind of the tempted believer would seem to overtop and outshine all others!
And for what does Jesus pray? That the temptation might not come? That faith may not be tried? Oh no! He does not ask the Father in behalf of His people, for their entire exemption from temptation and trial. Full well does He know that if conformed to Him, their Head, they must through much tribulation enter the kingdom. Pure and sinless though He was, needing no sifting and no refining, He yet passed through each process as if there were in Him the chaff to scatter, and the alloy to consume. How much more needful does Jesus see that His people, in whom there is such an admixture of the precious with the vile, so much indwelling sin, so much powerful corruption perpetually seeking to destroy indwelling grace, should not be exempted from the process which, painful though it be, is absolutely needful and eternally good! But Jesus prays that in the actual trial of faith it might not fail. Now, why, is it, O believing soul that your tried faith has not failed? Why, have you passed through the sifting with not one precious grain fallen to the ground?
Because your great High Priest prayed for you before the trial, and prayed for you in the trial, and has not ceased to pray for you since the trial.
All upholding grace, all restraining grace, all restoring grace, all establishing grace, has been meted out to you through the channel of your Lord’s perpetual and ever-prevalent intercession. Oh, how should this truth endear the Savior to your heart! With what holy contrition should it fill your spirit, and with what sweet affection should it constrain your soul to a simple and an unreserved surrender to God!