(This is the seventh segment of The Model Prayer series.)
The negative side.
Lead us not into temptation.
In other words, “Lord, do not carry us into those situations where we might succumb to seductions or enticements to sin, or trials of our fidelity.”
But does God actually guide us into those situations that would suck us into a lapse of faith or holiness? Of course not. James said, “And remember, when someone wants to do wrong it is never God who is tempting him, for God never wants to do wrong and never tempts anyone else to do it. Temptation is the pull of man’s own evil thoughts and wishes. These evil thoughts lead to evil actions and afterwards to the death penalty from God. So don’t be misled, dear brothers.” (James 1:13-16 TLB)
Paul encourages us to “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” (Eph. 6:11NIV), so that we “do not give the devil a foothold.” (Eph. 4:27 NIV)
The positive side.
Deliver us from evil.
The word deliver means to rescue or preserve from, rush or draw for oneself. Evil is described as hurtful, annoyances, hardships, pressed and harassed by labors, denotes evil that causes pain, sorrow, bringing toils, perils, of a bad nature or condition, or wicked.
In other words, “Lord, draw us to Yourself and away from those wicked, hurtful perils and conditions.”
If we willingly succumb to the dangling lures and shiny baubles of the enemy’s seductions, we venture out of God’s protection.
One of my favorite murder mystery movie series is Agatha Christie’s Poirot, the great Belgian detective. Once, as his “little gray cells,” as he calls them, pondered a puzzle of clues, he said, “The devil himself dances among us; we just don’t see him.”
He was right. The devil and his cohorts waltz around, dangling temptations before our eyes and ears to steal our joy, kill our faith, and destroy our fellowship with God. They do all they can to dance around us, to divert our focus away from God and to delay or defeat His answers to our requests.
We always have a way out, for the Word says, “God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (1 Cor. 10:13b NIV) We just don’t always use it, do we?
David pleaded with God, “Let not my heart be drawn to what is evil, to take part in wicked deeds with men who are evildoers; let me not eat of their delicacies.” (Ps. 141:4a NIV)
What captivates our hearts? What attracts our eyes? Are we focused on worldly possessions, temptations, and thinking or on all that the Lord says in His Word?
~~Lord, “Don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.” (NLT) Draw us to Yourself and away from the evil that would seek to cause us pain, sorrow, or other perils. May Your Word be stored in our hearts to keep us from sinning against Your love. Amen.~~