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The followers of Jesus watched him pray. They listened as he spoke with the Father. They saw the fruit and the result of his praying. And so it seems to be only reasonable that they would have asked him to teach them to pray. They wanted to learn how to talk with the Father the way that he did.

In answer to the disciples’ request to teach them to pray, Jesus offered an “index prayer”–something like a prayer guideline. Not a collection of the very words to say or repeat, but a pattern of the kinds of things to talk with the Father about. In a number of prior posts, we listened to and explored this model prayer. Here we turn, once again, to the last essential request (initially touched on in “Where He Leads Us”).

Jesus said, “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.’” (Matthew 6:9-12)

We have to think carefully about requesting the Father to “not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” This is not a plea for the Lord to refrain from tempting us to do evil, to not entice us into sin. The Lord does not do that kind of thing. But the Lord does orchestrate things in such a way that we do face times of temptation, as seen with the disciples themselves.

When they were with Jesus in the Garden before Jesus’ betrayal, he enjoined his followers to pray.

“Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41)

The situation the disciples found themselves in was wholly within the Father’s purview. They weren’t where they were by accident, but by design. But praying was necessary to keep them from giving into the temptation that they were facing. Although they might well have had a longing to live well and right with Jesus (the “willing spirit”), their ability to live into that was deficient without divine help (the “flesh is weak”).

A similar dynamic is reflected in Paul’s words about the things he faced during his years of ministry. In writing about how he had faced various hardships, Paul wrote:

But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was rescued out of the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom; to him be the glory forever and ever. Amen. (2 Timothy 4:17-18)

In the midst of trouble and hardship, Paul needed the Lord’s help. In these two sentences, Paul twice makes reference to the Lord’s “rescuing” him–the same word used by Jesus in teaching us to pray for deliverance from evil. And the evil we are asking to be delivered from is the same word Paul uses to speak of being delivered from “every evil deed.” Paul experienced the reality of that last phrase of “the Lord’s prayer.”

Putting these pieces together, we can fill in the picture of what Jesus is teaching us about prayer. We are encouraged to ask:

“Father, knowing that trouble will come but assured of your sovereign reign over all, do not allow me to be taken to the brink of trials that will overwhelm me, but rescue me out of all that is wicked, delivered from all that might draw me away from you or turn my heart from running fully after you.”

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2 Comments

  1. O Lord, You have raised my spirit from the dead. And now my spirit longs to follow You! Please strengthen my weak flesh to follow what my spirit longs for.

  2. What a sweet prayer, Doug. We are alive. May He, by His grace and Spirit, continue to empower us so that we can live as the new people we are.


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