“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.”
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Matthew 6:13
As we conclude our time looking at the Lord’s Prayer I would like to take us into a few situations. The first is a kleptomaniac, walking into a bank that for some reason or another is empty of all customers and staff, but the vault is completely open and all the bags of money are just lazily laying on the floor waiting to be taken. The second is a mobster who prays a prayer of repentance, and before his fingers touch the last bead on his rosary, is already planning on meeting his contact in some dark ally. The final is a young soldier who for the first time is about to jump from a plane into a war zone, and before they take that impossible step, which a good portion of the body and brain does not want to take, prays that God protects them and gives them the ability to be a warrior.
So, why the stories? Its because out of all of the petitions that we have been taught to pray in the Lord’s Prayer this is the most difficult to deal with, both theologically and, when we are honest with ourselves, personally. It gets super messy, and demands some solid answers to a few very difficult questions. So, again, why the stories of a kleptomaniac, a mobster, and a soldier? In each of these cases we see temptation, how it works, how God can use it, and how we react.
Before we look into these things I want to quickly look at two other passages about temptation. The first is in James 1:12-13 “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trail, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.” The second is from 1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
What God tells us in Scripture about temptation is very strange. First, we are to ask for the protection to not be tempted. Its like the sticky fingers in the bank. We pray that we are not ever put in places or in situations that would tempt us to do things that hinder our relationship with God. However, if we are brought into those situations we are promised that we will have an out. The mobster at the first could easily just walk away from the obligatory confession with a truly changed heart and not do the dastardly deed that he was planning even with the consequences that would come with that. Which brings up the idea that God may give us a way out, but it may not be easy. Finally, because we serve a God “who causes all things to work for the good of those who are called by him,” temptations, though from the evil one, can be used to test us and make us stronger. The soldier looks at the battle and knows what must be done. Like wise, we look at the valley of death that we may be in, and with our hope in God we let Him lead us through this period of our lives, and in the end we are stronger and our understanding of God is more profound, in other words we are stronger warriors in His army.
And just as we have been reminded from the very beginning of this series, we have to have our hearts and minds solidly set on God. When we are praying for protection at the beginning of our day, our prayer isn’t so we can be perfect, its so God can be glorified and so we can have a closer relationship with Him. Which, means when we are in those temptations we have something to fight for. Finally, when we keep our hearts meditating on God and who He is we know that He will never leave us, and will always give us the tools we need to not just survive a situation, but to be perfected by it. And all this is because He is our “Father in heaven.”