And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
The word temptation is usually associated with something bad. A slice of chocolate cake is a dietary temptation; a relaxing day reading a book is a temptation to someone who has a lot of urgent work to do; a twenty dollar bill lying on the ground is a temptation to someone without a strong moral compass. But in the Greek in which the New Testament was written the word peirasmos means the trial of a person's fidelity, integrity, virtue or constancy.
A temptation, in this context, means a test of a person's ability to withstand adversity; the strength to hold back; a test of loyalty. Jesus' temptation in the wilderness is an example of such peirasmos. And remember, Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit to be tempted by the devil. God led Him into temptation.
Temptation, when God is involved, is not designed to see the person fail and make that person a sinner. Hopefully it will make that person stronger, more focused, and ready to serve.
When we are tempted to sin, we must remember that it is not God that is tempting us but the power of evil. In the wilderness, even though the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted, it was Satan that did the tempting. Life, the good and the pain, are all tests allowed by God with temptation provided by Satan. Confronting us everyday in everything we do is the question, will I honor God on this day or will I reject God.
These verses are asking God to keep us from being overwhelmed by our daily temptations and asking God to deliver us when this is about to happen; to keep the pleasure or pain that we are experiencing from interfering with our faith life.
Finally, John Stott wrote this of the Lord's prayer. "When we pray the Lord's prayer we are expressing our dependence on God for our food, for our forgiveness, and for our deliverance. God the Father gives us our food. Jesus provides our salvation (forgiveness), and the Holy Spirit rescues us from the evil one. The Lord's prayer is actually a prayer to the Trinity."
Tomorrow we study fasting.