Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one
It’s been a while since we last looked at the Lord’s Prayer together. We’ve honoured God, asked him to meet our physical/material needs and then turned, lastly, to our spiritual need in asking for forgiveness.
If our last petition dealt with sins committed in the past, today’s petition looks forward to the dangers that lie before us.
‘Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one’
Why pray this prayer, given we know that God will not lure his people into sin anyway? “What king will tempt his subjects to break laws which he himself has established?”Thomas Watson
RC Sproul says,
“A superficial reading of this petition of the Lord’s Prayer should jar our sensibilities to some degree, because nothing could be farther from the realm of possibility than that God would entice anyone to sin. James teaches in his epistle, “Let no one say when he is tempted, `I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone” (1:13). James goes on to explain that enticement and temptation to sin arise from within, from our own evil inclinations and desires. External temptations can come to us from fellow sinners who want misery in company or from Satan himself, who is known in the Bible as the tempter. But God Himself does not engage in temptation to sin. How, then, are we to understand this petition? The force of the language does not have to do with God’s enticing us to sin. A better wording might be, ‘Do not lead us into the place of testing.’”
There is in this request an opportunity for us to acknowledge our weakness before God. No matter how many years we have been a Christian, how many battles won, we must remain vigilant and aware of our vulnerability. If Our Father sees fit to allow us to face a time of testing for our good, then so be it. But let us not face needless tests because we have been careless and negligent in our prayer life.
It is a reckless and naïve Christian who launches himself or herself headfirst into testing. We are not as strong as we like to think we are. There is great wisdom in praying “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one” even though we know that sometimes times of testing will serve us well as we grow in grace and godliness.
9 ‘This, then, is how you should pray:
‘ “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”Matthew 6:9–13