Short Meditations on the Lord’s Prayer: 12. Deliverance Praying
Mt 6:13b but deliver us from the evil one
I suspect that for many Christians talk about Satan or ‘the evil one’ and, even worse, ‘powers and principalities’, has a quaint outdated feel to it, but that is simply a lack of teaching in the days in which we live. The truth is that Satan plays a large part in the overall Bible narrative and we should be clear about this.
Activities: He is the one who tempted Eve and Adam and helped bring about the Fall (Gen 3) and he appears as the tempter with Jesus (see Mt 4:3) and he appears as an agent of upset and accusation (see Job 1:6, Zech 3:1, 2 Cor 11:14, Rev 12:10), Jesus described him as a murderer and liar (Jn 8:44), he comes as a dragon (Rev 12:9) or lion (1 Pet 5:8) to attack and intimidate, and he is seen as one to whom God has given authority (Eph 2:2, Jn 14:30, 16:11, 1 Jn 5:19)
God’s Instrument: As an angelic or spirit being, he is unseen and yet the Bible and Jesus treat him as a very real created being, fallen yes, beautiful probably, yet used by God to reveal men’s hearts (see 1 Chron 21:1), to being judgment on unbelievers (Rev 9:11), to bring discipline to believers (1 Cor 5:5), to dominate unbelievers (1 Jn 5:19), to maintain humility in our lives (2 Cor 12:7), and to teach us resistance to evil (1 Pet 5:8,9).
Limitations: The story of Job teaches us that as an instrument in the hand of God he is sometimes allowed free reign to work the above things in us, but always it is a case of ‘thus far and no further’, i.e. he is limited in his activity and the end of his rebellion is decreed (Rev 20:10)
How does God “deliver us from the evil one”? First of all He teaches us about him. As we’ve seen above, His word is quite specific. There is no need to be ignorant of his ways and his activities. Second, the Lord teaches us who we are – His children, His sons – and teaches us of the resources that we have in Christ, resources that enable us to stand and hold (Eph 6:11,13,14) the ground, hold our position in Christ, resist his activities and overcome his wiles. Third, He allows us to stand in the midst of this fallen world, surrounded by the activities of the enemy and the people submitted to him in their rebellion against God, so that we will be able to resist and stand and show the power and wisdom of God in and through us (see Eph 3:10).
But why pray? If all these things are true – and they are – why pray this prayer? Answer: to declare our reliance on the Lord, recognizing that in ourselves we have no strength, it is all His, we have no wisdom, it is all His, and thus we need His guidance, we need His protection, we need to ensure He is sovereign Lord of our lives.