11. Protective Praying

Short Meditations on the Lord’s Prayer: 11. Protective Praying

Mt 6:13a   And lead us not into temptation

I suggested in the previous study that sometimes verses catch us unawares; they look so simple but seem to explode with truth under our feet. I think this part of a verse is like that. How often it must have been uttered in formal services, uttered but with little thought.

The ’And’ indicates the start of a new request. Verse 11 faced our physical needs, and verse 12 our spiritual-relational needs. This verse takes us into the need for security, to keep up from going wrong.

The Message version puts it, Keep us safe from ourselves.”  Temptation is simply an attraction to do wrong. James said, each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed” (Jas 1:14) So we have wrong desires but who does the enticing? It is not God: “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone.” (Jas 1:13) The second half of today’s verse implies it is Satan, but we’ll come to that in the next study.

So why should we pray and ask God not to lead us into temptation when we are told by James that God doesn’t tempt anyone? There are several aspects to be considered.

First, consider Jesus ‘leading’ us. The picture of the Good Shepherd comes to mind (Jn 10:11) and the shepherd leading his sheep. In the Shepherd Psalm the shepherd leads me beside quiet waters,” and “guides me along the right paths.” (Psa 23:2,3) They are beautiful pictures of the way he looks after us. Now there is an implication here that we can miss: to find quiet waters and right paths means that we have to follow him. This verse in the prayer reminds us first of all that we are followers of the Good Shepherd, that we go where he leads us.

Second, “don’t lead us” means we recognize that there are certain things in life that are out of bounds for us. Sin is not to have a place in our lives, and if temptation is the open door that leads us to sin if we give way to it, or go through the door of opportunity, then it is a doorway we need to steer away from. We need to understand that No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (1 Cor 10:13) However enticing the door (of the temptation) appears you never have to go through it. God’s grace is always there to enable you to back away and turn from it. So what are we praying? “Lord, I recognize there are opportunities to do wrong along the way. Keep me from these by your grace. Keep me following your lead for I know that will always be to good places.”

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