Lord, Teach Us To Pray - Part Four
This will the fourth and final articles of our Thoughts of Faith on the Lord's Prayer. I would again encourage you to read and meditate on the whole prayer as given to us in Matt. 6:9-14. I will quote (with permission from the author) occasionally from Phillip Keller's book - A Layman Looks at the Lord's Prayer. The page numbers will indicate where the quotes are found in the book.
And Lead Us Not Into Temptation: At first blush this seems like a strange request. It seems as though Jesus is asking His Heavenly Father not to lead us into temptation. Can it be that our Father would do this? The following passage, among many passages, answers this with a resounding "No"! James 1:13-15 tells us "Let no man say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God", for God cannot be tempted with evil and He himself tempts no one; but each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire (lust). Then desire (lust) when it has conceived gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full-blown brings death." Wouldn't it be convenient every time we are tempted and sin to have someone else to blame. "God led me to do it" or "The devil made me do it." Unfortunately we must bear the guilt and consequences each time we succumb to temptation. Do we have a way out of this predicament? Yes, we do. I Cor. 10:13 tells us "no temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." Jesus was merely asking His Father to spare us needless temptations.
"There are three main areas where temptations strike. 1. My emotions - my desire for pleasure, for indulging myself. 2. My mind - pride in my reasoning ability, my rightness. 3. My will - pride in my independence or self-assertion." (page 240). John calls these the lust of flesh (sensual fulfillment), the lust of the eyes (coveting, avarice), and pride of life (self-esteem, power). See I John 2:16. Is temptation wrong? Not really - we all experience being tempted, but how we respond is crucial.
Keller (see page 242 from which I've adapted the following) gives a simple evolution of what can happen when we're tempted:
When we're tempted we reason (the work of Satan) that what we are contemplating doing isn't so serious anyhow. No dire consequences - it's only my business.
In the second step we envision a scenario that has aroused some passion of lust within us.
At this critical juncture we either resist the temptation or a very pleasurable and compelling desire to yield to it begins to overwhelm us.
Next we play with the idea in our minds, toy with it, and finally succumb. Here it is that we sin against God and others. Consequences inevitably ensue and we now have become slaves to that sin and to Satan.
Dismay, chagrin, and discouragement follow. (writer's note - I've been there and I know it's true). We then exist as miserable defeated persons - ashamed of our behavior.
Presenting a facade of happiness to those around us, we try to hide our sin and start down the path of personality disintegration. More egregious sinfulness, broken marriages and personal relationships, and estrangement from God are sure to follow unless we come to the "foot of the cross," meet Christ there, confess, repent and turn our lives over to God.
Deliver Us From Evil: Jesus, recognizing how subtly Satan panders to our self-will and tempts us in areas where we are the weakest, prayed for the Father's help. This was no mouthing of words on the part of Jesus. He knew that God would walk with us as He did with Him when was tempted in the Desert early in His ministry. If we are His children, He is always there, always available, when we need His help. See Isaiah 43:1-3 Like parents with a child learning to walk - He picks us up when we fall, succors our wounds, and starts us again on the right path. He endows His children with His Spirit to guide and lead us when we ask, and other resources to enable us to resist our evil inclinations. Prayer, availing prayer, personal worship, study, and the application of biblical truths, obedience, expressing love to God and others, etc., are the ways we are delivered from evil.
For Thine Is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory, for Ever, Amen: This beautiful benediction, an exultant praise to God, harks back to the beginning of the prayer - "hallowed be thy Name". Do we really believe the words of this benediction? Only if we have truly submitted our lives to Him and are endeavoring to walk closely with Him can we say this without hypocrisy. Does this mean we never yield to temptation? Of course not! Are any of us without sin? Of course not! Read I John 1:6-9 if you question these statements. May the truths expressed in this Lord's Prayer become alive in your lives today. Love to hear from you. or 374-0883.
Paul Williams is a retired veterinarian. He and his wife, Pat, lived in Indiana for 41 years, where he practiced. They also lived in Drummond Island, Michigan for eight years and in Marietta for seven years and attend Evergreen Bible Church. Thoughts of Faith is a weekly column written by various ministers and lay people. To participate call 376-5446.