Reading: “Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not“ Luke 22:31–32
Some of the greatest stories of the work of the Holy Spirit in history are accompanied by severe satanic opposition. It is in these times that Christians can be thankful for a Saviour who holds us up in prayer. Patrick, writing in old ages, remembers a specific incident when he was about twenty-two years old.
It happened on his escape from slavery. He had boarded a merchant ship which after three days reach port, probably in France or Spain. Patrick records, “We travelled through a wilderness for twenty-eight days, and they ran out of food and hunger overtook them.” In desperation the captain came to Patrick, “You say your god is great and all-powerful; well then, why can you not pray for us?” Patrick did pray and he continues, “Behold, a herd of pigs appeared in the way before our eyes.” This distinct answer to prayer, Patrick says, had the result that they “gave grateful thanks to God, and I gained great respect in their eyes, and from that day they had plenty of food” (Confession, sec. 19).
No doubt, after such a victory, Patrick went to bed that night rejoicing in a great God. But that rejoicing was tempered by an attack of Satan as he slept. He writes, “That same night I was asleep, and Satan attacked me violently, something which I shall remember as long as I am in this body” (Confession, sec. 20).
Take comfort, believer. In the times of darkest despair we have a Father who knows our infirmities, a Saviour who feels them, and an Advocate who pleads our cause. Patrick testified, “I believe that I was aided by Christ my Lord and that His Spirit was already crying out for me, and I hope that it will be so in the day of my affliction, as He says in the gospel: ‘In that day; the Lord declares, It is not you who speak but the Spirit of your Father who speaks within you.’” (Matthew 10.19–20)” (Confession, sec. 20)
“I know well that when Christ is nearest, Satan also is busiest.”—Robert Murray M’Cheyne