Jesus, when He was praying in the garden before His arrest, asked His disciples to pray so they “may not fall into temptation.” Jesus knew that the crucifixion was near, and that prayer would be needed by each disciple to strengthen them for what lay ahead. Jesus included this phrase as part of the Lord’s Prayer he taught the disciples and for us to pray each day. But does God our loving Father lead us into temptation, or is Jesus talking about something else?
This verse is problematic for scholars and us. The author of James 1:13 says God does not tempt us: “No one who is tested should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ This is because God is not tempted by any form of evil, nor does he tempt anyone.” If we take a closer look at the word ‘temptation’ in the Greek, pierasmos, can be translated as trial or a test. The trials of life do test our faith. Just as Peter faced the testing of his faith when he denied knowing Jesus three times, and failed, so our faith will be tested. We can’t rely on our own strength to get through times that test us, we need to rely fully on God’s grace.
This is where the “rescue us” petition is so vital for us. As God’s children we need protection from temptation to sin, and we also face evil and spiritual warfare, but we never face it alone. Paul says we are “to put on the full armor of God…offering prayers and petitions all the time” (Ephesians 6:13,18). When we experience tough times in our lives it can shake our faith, cause us to doubt, to stop trusting God. We begin to feel abandoned by God and we may lose our faith. Our ego takes over and we fall into the temptation to go it alone. When we no longer pray we fall for the lies of the Deceiver and fall into evil. We need God to rescue us! Lift up your hearts to the Lord. And like the Good Shepherd seeking the lost sheep, God will bring us home.
by Jeneene Reduker
For Pondering & Prayer
Jesus has given us a mighty prayer that calls us into relationship with God as part of the family. We honor and love Holy God. We pray for the Kin-dom to come and transform all of creation, and we are invited to be loving participants in God’s will and work. We are strengthened by the bread of heaven and we are forgiven as we forgive with our whole hearts. And when our faith is tested, when we lose our way, God will rescue us from evil. This is the prayer Jesus asked us to pray to make God’s will manifest in us for the transformation of the world. Don’t just say it, really pray it. Pray like this:
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those that trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory forever. Amen.