Day Six: Don’t Bring Us into the Great Trial, But Rescue Us from Evil
Have you ever noticed that often when you are trying to do something positive, suddenly it seems as though everything begins working against you? As we worship and work for the flourishing of God’s Kingdom on earth as in heaven, evil—though defeated—aggressively resists and continues to revolt against God’s rule. This is one reason why we are frequently met with fierce opposition as we seek to do good things in the name of Jesus.
In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus warns Peter, James, and John, ‘Watch and pray so that you may not come into, peirasmos, the testing, the great time of tribulation. He is aware that all the dark powers of evil are converging towards him at this particular moment in history. As a matter of his own vocation, Jesus knows this will mean going to the very heart of that darkness and taking it upon himself, solo.
One of the more immediate meanings of this clause in the Lord’s prayer is that Jesus’ disciples might pray that they will be rescued from that time of great trial. He urges them to remain alert and prayerful for deliverance from evil schemes of the evil one. It is easy to see why this pattern of prayer is crucial for Jesus’ followers today.
The sentiment in the Lord’s Prayer can be either to ‘deliver us from evil’, or from the ‘evil one’. For Jesus and his first followers the difference between the two was not clear-cut, but rather a gray area. Our pattern might be to humbly pray, ‘Don’t let us crack under pressure from evil’, or, ‘Don’t let those dark forces grab hold of us’. Evil is typically cunning and sly rather than flamboyant and obvious, which is why it is vital to remain vigilant in prayer.
In Luke 22:53, Jesus acknowledges his opponents, ‘But, this is your hour when darkness reigns’. The dark powers were closing in on him, and it was his role to defeat them by dying under the weight of the world’s sins. It is the reverberations from this great trial from which Jesus’ followers continue to pray for deliverance.
When we lose sight of evil forces at work in the world, we may become overly confident in our own abilities to control certain situations, or naïvely assume we are strong enough to face any battle. We can also become so distracted by the enjoyment of good things that we overlook the darkness that yet opposes the Light of the world.
The Lord’s Prayer reminds us to seek his Kingdom first and to continue to pray for protection and deliverance until evil is fully and finally extinguished. We remember that God has made a good world and evil has no legitimate place in it. Our prayers about temptation and deliverance from evil must always bring us back with awe and gratitude to the foot of the cross. It is because of what Jesus accomplished there that we now pray with confident hope no matter what we face today.
Question to consider:
If we think we have named evil precisely, then we have assigned it an important place in God’s world, which it should not have. Why is it crucial to pray for protection and deliverance and avoid the extremes of overly fearing or ignoring evil?
Living it out:
Reflect or journal your thoughts on the differences between temptations, trials, and testing. How might the Lord’s Prayer provide comfort and hope in these areas?