This is our final look at the prayer Jesus taught his disciples. Next week, we will look at how Jesus expanded on the teaching, but not look at the prayer itself.
Lead Us Not Into Temptation
This instruction from Jesus is difficult because we know that God tempts no man, and he cannot be tempted by evil, and therefore we are not to accuse God of tempting us.1 When praying in the garden of Gethsemene, prior to his execution, Jesus told the disciples to watch and pray that they would not enter into temptation.2 The apostle Paul assured Timothy that, “The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom.”3
It helps our understanding to look at what Jesus actually said: “Do not lead us into πειρασμόν (peirasmon).” Peirasmon is an experiment, a test, a proof if you will. We do know that God will test his people and allow us to be tested. It is worth looking at what happened long ago between God, Satan, and Job.
Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. The LORD said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the LORD and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.
– Job 1:6-12, ESV
From that point forward, Job’s life was turned upside down in ways none of us has likely experienced, as Satan poked, prodded, stole, destroyed, and killed in his attempts to cause Job to deny and curse God. When Job refused, God eventually allowed Satan to strike Job directly, though he was forbidden to take his life.4
God tested the Hebrew people when he led them through the wilderness for forty years.5 God tested Abraham when he asked him to sacrifice his only son, the son of promise, Isaac.6 In the restatement of the Law of Moses, the people are told that when a prophet arises among them, one who is able to prophesy accurately yet calls the people to serve other gods, it is a test to see if the hearts and souls of the people love God, and if they will cling to him.7 Indeed πειρα (peira), the root word used by the apostle Paul when he instructs us to “test” ourselves to see if we are in the faith,8 is the same root term Jesus used when he refused to cave in to Satan’s temptation: “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”9
In teaching the disciples to pray this way, Jesus has instructed them to ask God not to do something we know he has done at various points throughout history. “Father, please do not lead us into testing, but rather deliver us from the evil one.”
1. James 1:13
2. Matthew 26:41
3. 1 Timothy 4:18a
4. Job 2:6
5. Exodus 16:4, Deuteronomy 8:2
6. Genesis 22:1-2
7. Deuteronomy 13:1-5
8. 2 Corinthians 13:5
9. Luke 4:12b