Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil
Matthew 4:1-11; Matthew 6:5-15
It is often said that the “Lord’s Prayer” is poorly named since its petitions are not those that the Lord Himself would make. Jesus would certainly pray “Father” – “Abba” even. He would certainly hallow the name of God and seek His kingdom. And He is the One who supremely did the will of the Father (Matthew 26:42). Yet the requests are different. Prayers for daily provision, daily pardon and, now, daily protection, are very different on our lips to how Jesus would have approached them.
Think of Matthew 4. Jesus was driven into the wilderness to be tempted by the evil one. He was very deliberately led into temptation. He refused daily bread. He would not feed Himself but others. He never sinned – there were no debts He needed forgiven. And in this way He resisted the devil’s temptations. Christ had victory in His wilderness time.
Now He turns to us and says that we too are in a wilderness time – we need daily bread. But we are not Jesus. Instead we depend on Jesus because we cannot do what He did. We need the provision of daily bread. We need pardon for daily sins. And we also need protection from the temptations of the evil one (“evil one” would be a better translation of the verse. Jesus has The Evil One – Satan – in mind here).
So we pray for Christ to encamp around us to deliver us (Psalm 34:7). We say “Father, I am so weak, I can’t make it through the wilderness on my own. The devil prowls around like a roaring lion, keep Him at bay. I fall for temptation all the time, please clear it away.” As little children, we rest in Jesus and ask our Father for the benefits of Christ’s work: daily provision, daily pardon and daily protection.
We could not secure those things ourselves, but in Jesus we are certain that they belong to us. Not by rights. Not even because we have prayed. But because He went hungry in order to feed us. He paid off our debts that we might be forgiven. He was led into temptation that we might be delivered. Christ doesn’t so much pray the Lord’s Prayer as underwrite it. And in Him, we pray with grateful, humble-hearted confidence. “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”