“And lead us not into temptation.”
A survey from a few years ago asked Americans to rank their most difficult temptations. Here were the top five:
- Giving in to anxiety or worry
- Overusing electronics and social media
It’s a good list. I’m also struck by what isn’t on the list. Maybe respondents weren’t willing to admit certain temptations.
“And lead us not into temptation.” Do those words imply that God might lead us into temptation.
Let’s make a distinction. Temptation is designed to lead into sin. Testing is designed to lead into holy living. Satan tempts with evil intent. God tests with loving intent. God never tempts because God never condones sin.
“God cannot be tempted with evil, and He Himself tempts no one.” (James 1:13)
All of us face temptation. Even Jesus was tempted. Satan tempted Him in the wilderness. Every day of Jesus’ life, He was tempted in some way, as all human beings are. Scripture says Jesus “in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)
In this petition of the Lord’s Prayer, we pray that God would guard us from every temptation. Many of us are accustomed to praying against all kinds of threats, particularly for physical safety and health. How much more important it is to pray for a strong spirit to withstand the attacks of Satan.
Recently I conducted a training meeting for all of our board members at Shepherd. I asked Dr. Rick Barrows to share a few words. Rick and his wife Rose lead our prayer chain. During his presentation, Rick held up a piece of paper. (He called it a low-tech slide show.) On the paper was the picture of a target. He said that each of us has a target on our backs. Satan shoots his flaming arrows at everyone who steps up to lead in the name of Jesus.
But, Rick reminded us, we have each other’s backs. How? Through prayer! After the meeting, he sent the board members a list of each other’s names, encouraging everyone to pray for one another.
Satan may tempt. But through prayer, we have each other’s backs! And by His mercy, God has us covered!
Tomorrow: But deliver us from evil.
Yesterday: Would You Have Forgiven a Nazi?
On Wednesday, July 1, we’re opening the church from 7-8 p.m. for a guided prayer experience. It’s titled “Speak Up: Prayer Vigil for Healing and Peace in America.” We’ll be walking through the petitions of the Lord’s Prayer and praying for specific needs in our nation.