Often on my early morning prayer walks, I start by praying the Lord’s Prayer. It helps me to align my heart with his. In Jesus’ instruction we are told to pray “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”(MT 6:13) Yet James tells us in his first chapter that “God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone” (James 1:13).
The Greek word for “temptations” in our Lord’s Prayer can also mean “trials”. We have come to accept that God brings us trials and there is scriptural evidence of this in the account of our forefathers. However, I believe there are two kinds of “temptations /trials”. One is self-inflicted!
I find myself identifying with the apostle Peter in many ways, one of which is that I too am a “napper”. My fifteen minute naps revive me and I often come out of them like a cannonball out of a cannon, ready to take on the world! The adrenaline seems wonderful at the time but I now realize that care must be taken in moments like these.
Peter woke up from his nap in the garden and cut off a servant’s ear in the midst of armed enemies, leading to yet another rebuke from his Master. Could his impulsive action and Jesus response have caused confusion that robbed him of his confidence? In his weakened state he cowardly followed Jesus into the court of the high priest, and here he fell into temptation. If Peter had followed Jesus earlier instruction in the garden to “Pray that you will not fall into temptation” (LK 22:40) would things have been different?
Is it possible that what Jesus is telling us to pray in Matthew 6:13 is “do not allow us to be led into temptation” as some commentaries suggest? Considering James 1:13 this seems reasonable to me. And what is our part in this? “Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation” (MT 26:41)
We must watch for that which causes us to enter into needless trials and temptations. Frustration leading to anger is one such trap for me. Our loving Father will show us these sins if we ask, and provide the door of escape (1 Cor 10:13) at just the right moment! Our labor of prayer will bring us victory over temptations and rise to the throne room as a sweet incense!
Blessings on your week ahead!