“ And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
What does “lead us not into temptation” mean? Certainly, it cannot mean that God is the prime mover behind all temptation. James 1:13 makes this clear: “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’…nor does He tempt anyone.” Rather, this verse describes one’s reliance upon God to keep one from being overpowered by temptation and falling into sin. It reveals that apart from God we are weak and frail. We are dependent upon God to give us strength and deliverance.
Verse 13 reminds us that we cannot overcome temptation nor can we be delivered from evil apart from the strength of a Sovereign God. Thus, when we pray “and lead us not into temptation…” we humbly recognize our own weakness to overcome sin apart from God. You see, every Christian has an enemy who hates you and wants nothing more than to see you fall and fail. This phrase is a plea for God’s help in the battle with this enemy. When we pray this prayer, we recognize the fact that we are unable to wage this war on our own. Therefore, we call on the name of the Lord, employing His power to stand against the devil in the battle with temptation and sin.
To pray “and do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil,” is the expression of our reliance upon the strength of our Heavenly Father. God alone is the sustaining one. Thus, the believer must have total reliance upon the Heavenly one.
You see, by ourselves, we cannot overcome temptation and sin, but we know the one who can! He is the one who has: “…measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, and marked off the heavens by the span, and calculated the dust of the earth by the measure, and weighed the mountains in a balance, and the hills in a pair of scales…Behold the nations are like a drop from a bucket.” (Isa. 40:12,15)
When we come before God with humble recognition and heavenly reliance, we can be confident that He will be our holy refuge in the midst of temptation and evil. Many examples can be found in scripture of God being a holy refuge for His people: The Exodus, Elisha, and the Babylonian captivity are just a few. The Bible is full of verses that declare the truth that God is a holy refuge.
One example is 2 Chr. 16:9: “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.”
Evaluate your prayer life. Do you come with a humble recognition that you are weak without God? Do you have a heavenly reliance upon the only one who can protect and sustain you? Do you find a holy refuge in a God who is seeking the earth for those whose heart is blameless towards Him? Begin praying like this and watch your relationship with the Lord flourish.