A familiar plea, the words sometimes come off as rote: "Lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil [or, the evil one]." (Luke 11:4) A plainer translation makes the thought more lively: “God, keep us from ourselves and the Devil.” (From THE MESSAGE )
C.H. Spurgeon, commenting on this part of the disciples’ prayer wrote, “What we are taught to seek or shun in prayer, we should equally pursue or avoid in action.” With every prayer, I believe God shows me a path to pursue actively or avoid assiduously. Christ is my path; my own inclinations, I must avoid, so that I won’t “tempt the devil to tempt me.”
Getting the enemy’s attention is not smart. (See _The Oath_ by Frank Peretti)
Christ permitted the devil to tempt Him; Christ spent 40 days wrestling with real temptation – physical, emotional and spiritual. (Matthew 4) I rarely last 10 minutes into a temptation. And then I am where I should not be: the wrong pasture! Before I know it, I am in an argument, or misunderstanding; I’ve lost my temper, or I’m using my time unwisely, or, making unhealthy food or exercise choices. I am doing what I shouldn’t, and not doing what I should: and so become an easy prey. I need deliverance! (Romans 7:24)
Mr. Spurgeon said of the plea, “Prevention is better than cure: it is better to be so well armed that the devil will not attack you, . . . Pray this evening first that you may not be tempted, and next that if temptation be permitted, you may be delivered from the evil one.” So I pray, God please keep me from wandering into the wrong pastures, . . . and deliver me from evil – the one who can tempt me. My worst enemy is me – and my real enemy is the devil. (Ephesians 6:10-19)
The plea is simple; the purpose is lifesaving – my own and the lives of those I love: “God, keep us from ourselves and the Devil.” It covers my husband, our children, and grandchildren – and you, dear reader.
God, I believe; Help, Thou, my unbelief – and keep these oh so familiar words from being simply a bedtime recitation!