"And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil."
We have given the fullness of our lives over to Him, and consider the realities of what that might mean. We watch as Jesus is led by the Spirit out into the Wilderness to be tempted and wonder if that might not just as easily happen to us. As disturbing a prospect as that is, we must let the prayer say what it says. Jesus is teaching us to pray that the Father not lead us into temptation.
We are praying for a change in our nature - for it is to our nature that temptation appeals. Our own desires pull us toward satisfaction at whatever cost - unless they are disciplined, mortified, controlled. So we pray that we not enter fully into what we still are, but be lead to what we might yet become. The way there is often through the wilderness.
And yet again, we want to be spared entry into - engagement with - temptation. We will be tempted, but pray that we not enter in. The pull will be there. So we ask for strength, courage, strategy, to resist.
What kind of Father is this to Whom this prayer need be prayed? But here, we see. He is the kind of Father for whom this prayer is His will. He does not will that we be brought into temptation. So we pray according to His will. At least as we are able to understand it. But His will is sometimes other than what we can understand. We are in this, as in all things, at His mercy. This is a prayer for that mercy. At some level, it is simply that we not be tempted beyond our ability to stand. At another level, it is that we be continually strengthened and fortified that we be able to increasingly stand.
At the core of it all is the request that evil not have the final word - that we be delivered from it. Inside and out, evil is real. It has entity status. It has a name. We do not want the Evil One to triumph over us. That will require deliverance. Fortunately, we pray to One who has the power to deliver. And who has shown Himself willing to deliver. We ask - before, in the midst, and in the final analysis, "deliver us from evil."