‘“And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one (Matthew 6:13).”’ These are the fifth and sixth petitions of the Lord’s Prayer.
So often when we pray we start by asking God to help us in some way. We have many difficulties to overcome, and we can’t do without His help. He is our *all-knowing and all-powerful God. He is aware of our desires before we ask Him (Psalm 139:1-6), and if our prayers are in accordance with His will (Psalm 145:18-20) He will satisfy our requests (Psalm 90:14).
It would be infinitely better to commence our prayers with praise and thanks to God for His past provision and protection (Hebrews 13:15). We would then be heartened, because of being reminded of His help in the past. He never leaves or forsakes us (Hebrews 13:5), despite moments when we may have wondered where He was. They were times when the going was tough and sky was dark, but afterwards the sun shone and we saw the Lord’s footprints in the sand. [See poem below]
Such adversities and tribulations are for the strengthening of our faith (Psalm 66:10). When Jesus brings us through testing times we are full of joy (James 1:2), and we praise Him for His faithfulness (1 Corinthians 1:9; Revelation 1:5). On reflection, we may recollect moments when we reproached ourselves for doubting, and we were sorrowful for our unfaithfulness. We asked God to forgive us.
How are we to understand the fifth petition: ‘And do not lead us into temptation? God would never deliberately place temptations before us. They are the work of the devil (1 John 3:8). In that respect, Jesus was tempted by the devil when He was in the wilderness. Not once did He succumb to his ploys. How did He deal with the devil? By rebuking and confronting him with Old Testament Scriptures. (Matthew 4:1-11)
Inevitably, the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2) will place temptations before us (Ephesians 2:2), but in this present age we have both the Old and New Testaments, and, if we are believers, we have the Holy Spirit who indwells us (Romans 5:5; 2 Timothy 1:14). Therefore when we are tempted we can wield the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17) and protect ourselves with the full armour of God (v 11). We have power not to sin.
As we walk in the Spirit our desire is to be true and faithful to Jesus who is faithful to us (Revelation 1:5). When we focus on Him we experience joy in our heart. Any satisfaction we may have had from passing temptations fade by comparison (Hebrews 11:24-26) to the joy found in Jesus. We know that if we succumb to the devil we mar our relationship with our Lord. Then we are uncomfortable and unhappy, and we want to confess our sins and endeavour to walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16, 25).
Temptation and sin are the work of the ‘evil one’. We are to avoid him, and give him no place in our lives (James 4:7).
The sixth petition, ‘“but deliver us from the evil one,”’ has two sides to it: First and foremost, for God to keep us apart from the devil, and secondly, if we fall foul of him, for the Lord to retrieve us from his clutches. The last thing our Good Shepherd wants is for us to stray into the hands of the evil one. He who laid down His life for His sheep (John 10:11) will protect and comfort us (Psalm 23:4).
In the next article we shall conclude our studies on the Lord’s Prayer by meditating upon Christ’s words, ‘“For Your’s is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen (Matthew 6:13).”’
* The Omniscience, Omnipotence and Omnipresence of God
Footprints in the Sand
One night I dreamed a dream.
As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
One belonging to me and one to my Lord.
After the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,
especially at the very lowest and saddest times,
there was only one set of footprints.
This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.
“Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,
You’d walk with me all the way. But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,
there was only one set of footprints.
I don’t understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me.”
He whispered, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you
Never, ever, during your trials and testings.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you.”