“And do not lead us into testing, but deliver us from the evil one.” Matthew vi.13a.
Jesus taught his disciples to prepare for and escape trials through prayer. The purpose of this prayer is to seek protection from potentially trying situations and from the evil one who might work to turn testing situations to his advantage.
Although some versions of the English Bible render this verse as, “And do not lead us into temptation,” some prefer the word “testing.” The purpose of temptation is to entice someone into sin. Testing, on the other hand, is a difficult situation that tests one’s faith and loyalty towards God. The former is aimed at taking a person away from God while the latter is to strengthen one’s faith. It is difficult to conceive of a holy God who entices his people to commit sin. “God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.” (James i.13) Therefore, many prefer to read this petition as “Do not lead us into testing.”
It is interesting to note that Jesus’ lesson on prayer includes a reference to God’s arch enemy. Many Christians believe that the devil is nothing more than a figment of people’s imagination or a remnant of ancient folklore. Jesus affirmed the existence of this evil being, the old serpent, who tempted Adam and Eve. Jesus also cast out the devil’s minions – demons – from many people. The Lord’s Prayer reminds us how real and dangerous the devil is. We shouldn’t fear the evil one; nor should we underestimate his wicked schemes. Even though the testing of our precious faith is from God, the evil one (the devil) can take advantage of these situations to tempt us. Our Father in heaven can deliver us from the evil one. “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished.” (2 Peter ii.9)
Not only does God keep his praying saints out of temptations, He also makes sure that we will never face a temptation that is beyond our strength. The apostle Paul reminded Corinthian Christians of God’s faithfulness while encouraging them to be cautious. “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” (1 Cor x:12-13)
With this prayer, Jesus teaches us the importance of taking responsibility for our lives. We should not sit back and blame the devil for all our ills. We should not make excuses for our foolish and sinful reactions to trying situations. When God offers us His help to escape trials and the schemes of the evil one, we need to pray. Our cautious attitude and prayerful preparation will deprive the devil of the element of surprise. A praying Christian is ready to face any situation in life.