And to be honest, this is the part of the Lord’s Prayer that makes the least sense to me. I flow pretty well with the logic of the other parts, but this part just seems odd to me. But in taking a look at it and thinking about it through the lens of Jesus’ life, it makes a little more sense, even if I don’t necessarily like the implications of it.
Let’s take a look at this final segment of the Lord’s Prayer:
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13).
Jesus ends his model prayer with this request of God that we would not be led into temptation, but delivered from evil (specifically the “evil one” himself).
I think one of the reasons that I wrestle with this part of the prayer is because it talks about God not leading us into temptation. That presumes there are times when he does. I’m not so much a fan of thinking about God on those terms. But it’s part of our reality. Just before the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew gives an account of Jesus being tempted in the desert. And how does the story begin?
“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted” (Matthew 4:1).
I find it a little disconcerting. But I also know from my own reality that oftentimes, periods and season of life where I feel I am tempted the most and tried the hardest are also the moments where my faith grows the most. Though I don’t like it, I can’t argue with the simple fact that seasons of crisis are the greatest catalyst for spiritual growth. We really explored this truth last year at Suncrest as part of our Plan B series.
But in spite of my personal misgivings at points about this part of prayer, I came up with three realizations.
1. This prayer is a prayer of dependance. We are praying for God to lead us. To guide us. You know what that implies? That implies that I am listening to God and leaning on his direction for my life. That I’m depending on him. And I think that’s one of the huge aims of prayer; God wants us to grow in our dependance and leaning on him.
2. This prayer acknwoledges that temptation and suffering is a part of our life. We live in a fallen world, but sometimes my gut reaction is to bury my head in the sand and try to act like everything’s okay when it’s really not. This prayer acknowledges that suffering and brokenness are a part of our existence this side of heaven. But more so, it’s also an acknowledgment that we believe God can do something about it. This is especially poignant given the fact that Jesus is the one praying this prayer. He knows his life will end with him dying in the most painful, terrible way imaginable and taking the sin of the world on his shoulders. I think Jesus teaches us to pray this way because he wanted us to know that as his followers, suffering would be inevitable. But we can take those difficulties to God and pray for relief. And even if that physical relief never comes, we can rest in the grace and mercy of God, knowing that he knows (see Hebrews 4:15-16).
3. This prayer reminds us that our God is a deliverer and will one day set things right. I’m reading a book right now called The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler, and one of the major premises of the book is that our entire world, not just us, is broken. And one of the things about the gospel that is to the ultimate glory of God is that one day he will set what’s wrong to right. He will piece together what is now broken. He will win in the end. There are days where everything in our lives seems broken. Beyond repair. Never able to be fixed. On those days, this prayer is a huge reminder that our God can (and will) deliver; if not in this world, then in the next.
I really hope looking at the Lord’s Prayer has been helpful to you. I’ve started to adopt this framework for my prayer life with God, and I think it’s great. It keeps me focused and grounded and aligned with God in the areas where I believe he wants us all to be. I’d love to encourage you to give it a try this week! Or at least once – I mean, if it was good enough for Jesus, then it’s good enough for us, right?