Sunday, April 21, 2013
The Lord's Prayer: Part 3
As a spiritual discipline, I have been in a pursuit to better understand the prayers and the creeds that I have used over the years. I've been seeking to find where my heart connects with God through these words, and so, I have recently done some blog posts on what the Lord's Prayer really means to me. I have already covered The first three sections of the prayer in previous posts: The Lord's Prayer and The Lord's Prayer: Part 2. Now, I seek to address the part that, quite frankly, kept me stumped for a while.
"and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil"
The biggest problem I had with wrapping my mind around this part of the Lord's Prayer is the "lead us not into temptation" part. At first glance, it seems like it implies the possibility that God would intentionally lead us toward temptation and evil. I could not reconcile this idea with Scripture while taking into account James 1:13, which states, "Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am being tempted by God;' for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone." However, after much prayer and thought, I think I have come to the heart of the matter.
I found myself helped most by John Wesley's notes on the matter. (What? I can't help it! After all, I am a Methodist!)
"6. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil - Whenever we are tempted, O thou that helpest our infirmities, suffer us not to enter into temptation; to be overcome or suffer loss thereby; but make a way for us to escape, so that we may be more than conquerors, through thy love, over sin and all the consequences of it. Now the principal desire of a Christian's heart being the glory of God, (ver. 9, 10, ) and all he wants for himself or his brethren being the daily bread of soul and body, (or the support of life, animal and spiritual, ) pardon of sin, and deliverance from the power of it and of the devil, (ver. 11, 12, 13, ) there is nothing beside that a Christian can wish for; therefore this prayer comprehends all his desires. Eternal life is the certain consequence, or rather completion of holiness."
So, the prayer is not implying that God would lead us forcefully into a situation of temptation, but rather, it is a plea for God to not allow us to be led into temptation or affliction that is beyond that which we can bear. It is a plea for our Father to hold us close to His side and protect us from the snares of the enemy.
When I came to this realization, it was beautiful to me. This is something that my heart cries out for. Anyone who, like me, has strayed greatly from God's path and found themselves in misery will be able to appreciate this prayer. Father, draw me close to Your side and teach me not to stray. Do not allow me to be led into temptation and rescue me from the traps of the enemy.