Monday, March 11, 2013, Part 2
“In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever, Amen” (Matthew 6:9-12).
IDEA: We sometimes feel that the petition about temptation could be better worded.
PURPOSE: To help listeners understand why Jesus prayed as He did about our temptations.
Have you ever felt that we might have finessed a few of Jesus’ statement had we been allowed to edit them?
We don’t really want to change what Jesus said. We want to make clear what we think Jesus must have meant.
I. What are some things we want to believe Jesus really meant when He prayed, “Lead us not into temptation”?
“Father, keep temptation away from us.”
“Father, don’t let Satan lead us into temptation.”
“Watch and pray that temptation doesn’t come near you.”
“Father, make me temptation-exempt.”
II. What are we asking when we make this request in prayer?
The problem lies in the phrase, “Lead us not into temptation.”
A young woman shopping at a mall sported a T-shirt that proclaimed, “Lead me not into temptation—I can find the way myself.” She wore it for a laugh, but the one-liner does raise the question of what we are asking our Father for when we ask Him not to lead us into temptation.
It is the first negative request in the prayer. Wouldn’t it be more understandable if the prayer asked, “Help us to overcome temptation”?
There are several possibilities about this negative request:
It is a litotes. It is a way to say something positive by saying something negative (D. A. Carson).
A Jewish woman in a restaurant in New York bragged about the young man her daughter was marrying: “He’s not objectionable.”
“Lead us not into temptation” would really mean “Keep us away from temptation.”
It is praying that we will not be tempted. We are asking, “Don’t let the Evil One catch us in his trap. If the opportunities to sin present themselves, grant that I won’t have the desire; if the desire to sin springs up within me, grant that I won’t have the opportunity.”
The petition reminds us of what we might easily forget. We seldom want to be delivered from temptation. It’s too much fun. Temptation stirs the blood and inflames the imagination. If it revolted us, then it would no longer be temptation. Usually temptation doesn’t seem very bad. We play with it, flirt with it and invite it into our lives.
It’s not temptation that bothers us. It’s the consequences of our sins that we want removed.