Matthew 6:13 (NIV) “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
In this final petition of Jesus’ model prayer, the focus is on the reality of temptation, and the real possibility of failure on the part of God’s people. After all, if Adam, who was created with a clean heart, could fall prey to the wiles of the evil one; if David, a man after God’s own heart, could fall; then it is possible for anyone to succumb to the enemy’s lure. And if Jesus Himself had to fight against temptation, then it is a sure thing that it will come to everyone born of woman.
This petition is one request stated in parallel format, with a different phase of the process addressed in each phrase. The first petition is that God will not lead His people into places where they will be tested beyond their ability to resist, so that they are liable to fall into sin. The second petition is that God will deliver His people from attacks by the evil one, including temptations that would cause them to fall.
Both of these petitions recognize God’s sovereignty; that He has not let the world be run by chance, or let the spiritual lives of His people be recklessly endangered by allowing everything to simply take its natural course. This is especially crucial when we recognize that the enemy is still prowling around out there like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.
In these petitions, God’s people are given the right to ask for help against this formidable (and invisible) enemy. They are also given the responsibility to ask for this help. No one should ever go face to face with satan in our own strength. So this petition, the final one in the Lord’s Prayer, needs to continually be on the lips of God’s people, and in our hearts and minds as well.
Father, I agree that we always need to recognize that we have a formidable enemy who is always looking for an opportunity to trip us up. But this petition in our prayer reminds us that we also have You, our Father in heaven, who is sovereign over all, even over the enemy. Help us to fully rely on You every day, not just when we are under fire, but always seeking You and Your presence earnestly, knowing that the fire is sure to come. Amen.