Do not allow us so to be led into temptation that we fall into it, but rescue us from the evil one
When Peter and I were asked to lead one of the weeks of the Prayer Space, I chose ‘Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.’ I have long been aware of ‘the spiritual forces’ at work in our world. Maybe this dates back to my early years as a Christian, reading books like C S Lewis’ “Screwtape Letters” or, later, some of the Frank Perretti novels. I think that our experiences of working in Bangladesh, India and Nepal where life is less sophisticated and spiritual battles are more obvious, also made us more aware.
A recent reading from John Stott’s “Through the Bible, through the year” started us thinking about these phrases. He suggests:
‘These last two petitions of the Lord’s Prayer are really one. They should probably be taken together as negative and positive aspects of the same prayer.
James writes “When tempted, no-one should say, “God is tempting me”. For God cannot be tempted by evil nor does he tempt anyone”. (James 1: 13).
So why pray that God will not do what he has promised never to do? It is better to unite the two clauses of the prayer, to understand “lead us not into temptation” in the light of its counterpart “deliver us from evil”. The probable answer is that this is a prayer more that we should overcome temptation rather than avoid it. We could then paraphrase the petition:
“Do not allow us so to be led into temptation that we fall into it, but rescue us from the evil one”.’
This lead us on to thinking about how Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, and also in the Garden of Gethsemane, and how He overcame it.
Satan presented a worldly perspective to Jesus – to use His power, status and authority. In similar ways Satan tempts us too. He wants us to see things as the world sees them – and follow the world’s priorities rather than God’s.
Consider 1 Peter 4: 12,14:
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you…. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you.”
For ourselves we can often experience struggles and difficulties after a time of special spiritual awareness or experience, or when our resistance is low for whatever reason. It can be helpful to be aware and ready – see 1 Peter 5: 8-9:
“Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering.”
And Ephesians 6: 10-13:
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.”
We can put on the armour which God gives to protects us. Here is the Armour of God prayer, copies of which are available in the Prayer Space:
Carolyn (and Peter)