Matthew 6:9-13 (ESV)
Pray then like this:
“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 also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
Lead us not into temptation!
What does this mean? First, let’s cover the obvious mistake. God does not ever tempt us Himself.
James 1:13 (ESV)
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.
So what does it mean? It means situations that could tempt us to sin. It also means trials of many kinds.
Trials will come
James 1:2-4 (ESV)
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
We will all undergo trials and temptations in our Christian lives, and they are often linked. We do not grow most in the easy, comfortable times of our lives, but in the trials and temptations of our lives. It is the times that we are being tested that we draw ever closer to God, more so than we had been in the past, and learn much about both God and ourselves. It is during these trials in our lives that we are able to learn how to rely on God, and also find out about areas of weakness in our lives.
And during trials, during those times we are under the most pressure, are we often most tempted to sin.
But do not pray for them to come!
Whilst we know that trials will come, we are not praying for them to come! We are praying that God will spare us as much as possible. We know that trials can be good for us, but there are some trials we are not yet ready for. We also know that times of trial can sometimes result in failure.
We are tempted to be angry – and chose to become very angry instead of letting go and relying on God.
We struggle financially, and are tempted to take back our giving to God, because we think we could use it better. Maybe this seems right in the immediate, human sense, but maybe also God is testing us to rely on Him, rather than our bank balance.
Maybe our integrity at work is tested, and instead of holding the hard path of integrity, we choose to let go ‘just this once’, and so damage or destroy our witness and testimony in front of many.
God will bring you the trials you are able to cope with, in His strength.
1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV)
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
Leading ourselves to temptation
Lastly, it is a reminder to protect ourselves from temptation! We are praying God will not lead us into those places, and part of that is to show us where we are tempted ourselves. There are places in almost everyone’s life that they simply cannot be.
For the recovering alcoholic, that may well be the pub, the game or even the Sunday BBQ.
For the recovering pornography addict, that may be every news stand in the country. Or even the internet as a whole without protection.
For the recovering gossip, that may well be the local hairdresser!
So while we pray for God not to lead us to places of temptation or trial, we also need to remind ourselves (or have God remind us at this time) of places we cannot be ourselves.
Lead us not into temptation
So as you pray this, know that trials will come, but there always will be a way out in Gods power. Know also that there are trials you are not ready for so don’t go looking for them, but stay in Gods will, and He will lead you on the path of righteousness.