For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

But deliver us from evil

Eleventh in The Lord's Prayer Series, "The best prayer to pray in times of stress"

Deliver us from evil! How many times has the Lord heard this cry over the centuries? Each plea was recorded in his book, and he easily recalls how often and well he has helped us, though we may forget.

Some of these instances are recorded in the Bible, to remind us to cry out — as though we need any encouragement.

One in particular comes to mind: when Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. This is both a good and a bad example.

It's a bad example because Jesus prayed in agony… earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. (Luke 22:44) Yet, the cup of suffering he dreaded was not removed. We prefer an example where the person is saved from terrors and death.

But it's a good example because his acceptance of God's will is what made possible our deliverance from evil, forever. As we study this instance, we find both the pattern for such prayers and the certainty that our deliverance from evil in the larger sense, HAS BEEN ACCOMPLISHED. Now, as we pray, we are to STAND against evil. Christ has triumphed over our Adversary, and if we belong to Christ, we OWN that victory. Why, then, do we so often live and act as though he accomplished nothing at Calvary? We won. The principalities were spoiled. (Col 2:15)

The account in Matthew notes that Christ prayed three times for the cup of suffering to be removed from him.

And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy. And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. (Mat 26:37-44)

By his second time of prayer, it seems he understood that he would drink the cup: O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. Perhaps the lack of prayer support from his friends was a confirmation to him that he was fast approaching his Passion. As we see, the pattern for prayer for deliverance is to pray more than once, and to ask above all for God's will to be done.

How sad that Christ's encouragement to his friends to pray included a proverb that today is used lightly, even laughingly, to set aside the need to make an effort to do the right thing. One succumbs to the temptation to overeat, or becomes "high," or does not avert his gaze from the opposite sex object, or overspends on a desired item: "The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak," they say to themselves, chuckling. This is an offense to the Holy Spirit, who is willing.

If we truly believed that the Spirit is willing to help us, and understood his immense power, we would take heart and easily conquer our tendencies to weakness and backsliding.

Often we think of Christ suffering willingly, and he did, but it was not a thirst to meet evil head on. He deeply desired to be obedient to the Father's plan.

As we pray, "Deliver us from evil," if we are crying out to be released from torment of emotions, thoughts and habits that have become our masters, it is certain we will gain the help we need.* But if in a complex stressful circumstance, leave room for the Lord to answer your prayer as he wills. Though evil may appear to win, its victory will be short-lived.

*Some exceptions to a speedy deliverance from evil are noted in the Westminster Confession.

WC Chapter XVIII, IV:

True believers may have the assurance of their salvation divers ways shaken, diminished, and intermitted; as, by negligence in preserving of it; by falling into some special sin, which woundeth the conscience, and grieveth the Spirit; by some sudden or vehement temptation; by God’s withdrawing the light of his countenance, and suffering even such as fear him to walk in darkness, and to have no light;p yet are they never utterly destitute of that seed of God, and life of faith, that love of Christ and the brethren, that sincerity of heart and conscience of duty, out of which, by the operation of the Spirit, this assurance may in due time be revived,q and by the which, in the meantime, they are supported from utter despair.r Scripture references: p Song. 5:2-3, 6; Ps. 51:8, 12, 14; Eph. 4:30-31; Ps. 77:1-10; Matt. 26:69-72; Ps. 31:22; Ps. 88; Isa. 50:10.; q I John 3:9; Luke 22:32; Job 13:15; Ps. 73:15; Ps. 51:8, 12; Isa. 50:10; r Micah 7:7-9; Jer. 32:40; Isa. 54:7-10; Ps 22:1; Ps. 88.

Also, see WC XVII, III:

Nevertheless they may, through the temptations of Satan and of the world, the prevalency of corruption remaining in them, and the neglect of the means of their preservation, fall into grievous sins;g and for a time continue therein;h whereby they incur God’s displeasure,i and grieve his Holy Spirit;k come to be deprived of some measure of their graces and comforts;l have their hearts hardened,m and their consciences wounded;n hurt and scandalize others,o and bring temporal judgments upon themselves.p g Matt. 26:70, 72, 74; h Ps. 51[The Title]; Ps. 51:14; i Isa. 64:5, 7, 9; II Sam. 11:27; k Eph. 4:30; l Ps. 51:8, 10, 12; Rev. 2:4; Song. 5:2-4, 6; m Isa. 63:17; Mark 6:52; Mark 16:14; n Ps. 32:3-4; Ps. 51:8; o II Sam. 12:14; p Ps. 89: 31-32; I Cor. 11:32.

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And lead us not into temptation

Tenth in The Lord's Prayer Series, “The best prayer to pray in times of stress”

Many years ago I attended a church whose pastor explained that, in the original language, the text actually would read, “Leave us not in temptation.” That sounded good to me, but it's inaccurate. See here. More recently, Pope Francis stated that “Lead us not into temptation” is a mistranslation. “It is not a good translation because it speaks of a God who induces temptation… It’s Satan who leads us into temptation, that’s his department.” Yet, even Satan cannot tempt man without God’s permission. (Job 1:12, 2:6; Luke 22:31)

So, what type of person would God lead or bring into temptation and why? God at times leads HIS OWN CHILDREN into temptation or hard testing. UNBELIEVERS, too, may be led, but that would be a separate study. To look at WHY he does so, we can study an example of this tactic.

However, before looking into this difficult truth, we can absolutely know and trust that God does nothing thoughtlessly, arbitrarily or heartlessly. Also, the Lord TEMPTS no one.Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. (James 1:13, 14) There is a real, not arbitrary, difference between tempting a man and leading him into temptation. In the first case, the one who is the temptor is a sinner, and in the second, the one who leads into the circumstance is God himself who has the right to test the hearts of men, for his own perfect purposes.

Our example is Hezekiah, who began to reign in Jerusalem at age 25. (2 Ch 29:1) He followed in David's footsteps, reestablishing proper worship. And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, and in the law, and in the commandments, to seek his God, he did [it] with all his heart, and prospered. (2 Ch 31:21)

During Hezekiah's reign a greater nation, the Assyrians, came to attack Jerusalem. They entered Judah and made threats, mocking Hezekiah's underlings for believing Judah could win the battle; they cried with a loud voice in the Jews' speech unto the people of Jerusalem that [were] on the wall, to affright them, and to trouble them; that they might take the city. (2 Ch 32:18)

During this siege, at age 40, Hezekiah was very ill. The Lord told him by way of Isaiah, the prophet, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live. (2 Ki 20:1b) In response, Hezekiah prayed and sobbed,I beseech thee, O LORD, remember now how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done [that which is] good in thy sight. (2 Ki 20:3)

The Lord then determined to add 15 years to his life, "And I will add unto thy days fifteen years; and I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake." (2 Ki 20:6)

Further, the Lord gave him a sign it would be done: Time was reversed for ten hours. The Lord brought the shadow ten degrees backward, by which it had gone down in the dial of Ahaz. ( 2Ki 20:11-- Ahaz was Hezekiah's father.)

Isaiah and Hezekiah cried and prayed, and the Lord sent an angel to defeat the Assyrians. It was such an incredible victory that many foreigners brought gifts to the Lord to Jerusalem and to Hezekiah, so that he was magnified in the sight of all nations after that time. (2 Ch 32:23b)

This, unfortunately, went to his head. The Bible states: But Hezekiah rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him; for his heart was lifted up: therefore there was wrath upon him, and upon Judah and Jerusalem. (2 Ch 32:25)

To demonstrate that Hezekiah did not show humility and gratefulness but rather self-satisfaction and pride, the story continues.

Ambassadors from Babylon paid him a visit, expressly to congratulate him on his health and to inquire about "the wonder that was done", the changing of time. Hezekiah happily showed them all the house of his precious things, the silver, and the gold, and the spices, and the precious ointment, and all the house of his armour, and all that was found in his treasures: there was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah shewed them not. (2 Ki 20:13)

Isaiah then warned him the Babylonians would return one day and carry off all of it.

Hezekiah was so proud of his magnificent holdings and his health. Yet these were his because of God's power and grace, so he was basking in glory that rightfully belonged to the Lord. And God has stated: I [am] the LORD: that [is] my name: and my glory will I not give to another (Isa 42:8a).

Thus, regarding the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, whom they sent to him to inquire about the wonder that was done in the land, God withdrew from him, in order to test him, that He might know all [that was] in his heart. (2 Ch 32:31), and he failed the test.

We can learn from this account:

  1. Don't take credit for the things God does; give Him the glory!
  2. Learn from trials. There is nothing sadder than a person who has been through a great trial, and then cannot apply its lessons or remember God's grace.
  3. If there is something in our spirit or personality that displeases the Lord, he wants us to put it away, whether fear, pride, anger, or the other sins and behaviors that compromise our faith and diminish a victorious Christian witness.

Let us hope and pray not to be released from the stress of trials unless we will go forward to live in a new way, closer to God, not further away. As we pray, "Lead us not into temptation," let's reflect and consider whether that "guidance" may be needed. Avoid it if possible!

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Attention Readers

Have you visited the Biotech Blog on this website? Find information and resources to help you think about biotech as a Christian.

During the summer of 2017, I explored the topic of kidney donation. Is it right for a society to permit that? To encourage it? What do you think? Read the Live Kidney Donation Series!

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