“Pray that you may not fall into temptation.” Luke 22:40
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Matthew 6:13a
In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus directed His disciples: “Pray that you may not fall into temptation” (Luke 22:40). And, yet, His disciples did not pray (cf. v. 46).
What about us? Do we pray that we would not enter into temptation? Remember that “our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12).
Either, like Simon Peter, we are so self-confident in the powers of our flesh that we will not fall into temptation and do not see the danger and need to pray, or the temptation appeals to us in such a way that we do not really desire to resist it.
One place in which we do pray that we not fall into temptation or be overcome by evil is in the prayer that our Lord Jesus taught us to pray, the Lord’s Prayer. Though our hearts may not always be in it, we at least say with our lips: “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matt. 6:13a).
The Bible clearly tells us: “Let no man say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil; neither does He tempt anyone. But each man is tempted when he is drawn away by his own lust and enticed” (James 1:13-14). Therefore, we are not, in this petition of the prayer which the Lord Jesus has taught us, asking God not to tempt us; for He “cannot be tempted with evil; neither does He tempt anyone.”
Rather, since we are tempted when we are drawn away by our own sinful longings and desires, we ask our Father in heaven to lead us in such a way through our daily lives that we are not tempted — to be led on such a path where we are kept safe and protected from our own sinful longings as well as from the enticements which the devil and the world put before us.
The Bible also assures us: “No temptation has taken you except what is common to man. God is faithful, and He will not permit you to be tempted above what you can endure, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13). The question is: Do we seek to escape it? Do we look to Scripture to reject it, as Jesus did when He was tempted (Luke 4:1ff.)?
Though God does not send temptation to evil, He does permit temptations to come. Yet, He limits the temptations and provides us a way out so that we may be able to endure and overcome them. Thus, we ask our heavenly Father to lead us in such a way that, when temptation does come, He would lead us safely through it and give us the victory.
Connected with this petition to our heavenly Father is the prayer that He would also deliver us from evil.
Again, the Bible tells us that we are to “be sober and watchful, because your adversary the devil walks around as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him firmly in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world” (1 Pet. 5:8-9).
The devil — or Satan — is the father of lies and the deceiver. He seeks to keep us from God and His truth (cf. John 8:44).
Like the roaring lion who stalks his prey and seeks out one that is weak or straying, so the devil watches for our weaknesses and attacks us when and where we are most vulnerable to his ploys. He seeks to keep us from God our Father and life everlasting through faith in Christ Jesus by causing us to doubt God’s Word and by leading us into a life of disobedience and sin.
And, again, remember St. Paul’s admonition in Ephesians 6:10-18: “Finally, my brothers, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your waist girded with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, having your feet fitted with the readiness of the gospel of peace, and above all, taking the shield of faith, with which you will be able to extinguish all the fiery arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit always with all kinds of prayer and supplication. To that end be alert with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.”
Therefore, we are in constant need of the protection and deliverance of our Father in heaven; and we humbly pray: “but deliver us from evil.”
And included in this petition, we pray that, when we do fall into sin and disobedience, God would graciously, for Christ’s sake, deliver us from the grasp of the devil and bring us back to repentance. We pray that we would acknowledge our sin and disobedience and turn to the LORD God for His mercy and forgiveness for the sake of Christ Jesus and His innocent sufferings and death in our stead.
The Bible says, “My little children, I am writing these things to you, so that you do not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2).
When we repent of our sin and turn to the LORD for His mercy and forgiveness in Messiah Jesus, He delivers us from the grip of the evil one and brings us back into His eternal kingdom for Jesus’ sake.
And, as believers, we take heart in the words of St. Paul to Timothy (2 Tim. 4:18): “The Lord will deliver me from every evil work and will preserve me for His heavenly kingdom, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”
Dear Father in heaven, lead me through life in such a way that I do not fall into temptation and sin; and deliver me from the attacks of the evil one upon my soul and upon my salvation in Your Son, Jesus Christ. And, Father, when I do fall, mercifully bring me to sincere repentance and faith, and preserve me for Your eternal kingdom. I ask this for the sake of Jesus’ blood shed for me. Amen.
[Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House.]
Go to dark GethsemaneAuthor: James Montgomery
Go to dark Gethsemane, ye that feel the tempter’s power;
Your Redeemer’s conflict see, watch with Him one bitter hour,
Turn not from His griefs away; learn of Jesus Christ to pray.
See Him at the judgment hall, beaten, bound, reviled, arraigned;
O the wormwood and the gall! O the pangs His soul sustained!
Shun not suffering, shame, or loss; learn of Christ to bear the cross.
Calvary’s mournful mountain climb; there, adoring at His feet,
Mark that miracle of time, God’s own sacrifice complete.
“It is finished!” hear Him cry; learn of Jesus Christ to die.
Early hasten to the tomb where they laid His breathless clay;
All is solitude and gloom. Who has taken Him away?
Christ is risen! He meets our eyes; Savior, teach us so to rise.