“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” (Matthew 6:13)
Several years ago, Lucy, my wife, and I had the trip of a lifetime to the Holy Land. As we were gathering together for dinner one night, I noticed that our tour guide—a Palestinian Christian woman—was in distress. When I asked her if she was alright, she began talking about a Palestinian family that had just been killed in a town we had just visited. She was crying, shaking, and enraged.
After she collected herself, I asked, “Please tell me how you pray when things like this happen.” She paused and then said, “And lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil.”
Why were these words so important to her? I imagine she was asking God to keep her from being tempted to seek revenge. And I imagine she was also asking God to deliver her from the evil of hating.
Lord, lead us not into temptation. I don’t exactly know why the Lord would lead us into temptation. Maybe God leads us into temptation to refine us, test us, clarify our intentions, or strengthen our faith.
Lord, deliver us from evil. I have met only a few people who seemed evil. They were so twisted and devoid of conscience that they seemed possessed by darkness. All of us, though, are capable of acting in evil and destructive ways. Not to acknowledge and admit this is naïve and dishonest.
The woman who said, “And lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil,” is a profoundly committed Christian. She desperately needed this petition from the Lord’s Prayer because she was tempted to seek vengeance and was afraid of being consumed with evil intent.
I encourage us to consider what these words of the Lord’s Prayer mean to us. We are engaged in spiritual battle. We need the Lord’s presence. There’s no temptation and no evil Jesus didn’t face and will not help us to face. Jesus doesn’t want us to deal with our temptations alone, nor does He want us to grapple with evil without Him.
Sometimes when I say the Lord’s Prayer I will remember that woman. I remember her pain and grief, and I also remember our praying the Lord’s Prayer together with Jesus at our side.
- I don’t exactly know how or why the Lord would lead us into temptation. I do know that we can lead ourselves into all kinds of temptations. How might you need the Lord to lead you out of yours?
- How might you need Jesus to deliver you from evil? That is, how might you need to be delivered from dark thoughts, from the desire to do harm, and from the compulsion to seek revenge?
- Do you know the battles for light and the battles against darkness that Jesus has called you into? If so, do you have the humility to ask for His help? If not, do you have the courage to ask Him what they might be?