It is called “the LORD’s prayer” by most people, but it is actually THE DISCIPLE’S PRAYER; it is the prayer that Jesus TOLD His disciples to pray. Everything in it is clear, except for the last line in Luke 11:4, which is the next to last line in Matthew 6:13. In both accounts Jesus told His disciples to pray: “Lead us not into temptation.” Why in the world would anyone be concerned about God leading them into temptation? That is the point of this article.
First, we need to clarify what these words CANNOT MEAN. James 1:13 “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.” So can God ever tempt someone to do evil? NO! So praying to Father God, “Lead us not into temptation.”, isn’t asking Him about not tempting us to sin.
Second, does God ever “tempt” anyone in some other way? YES. The word used in the Disciple’s Prayer is peirasmos; from a family of words (peira, peirazo, peirasmos, peirao) which all mean “to put something to the test”. Heb 11:17 “By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son,” God was not tempting Abraham to sin, but enabling him to prove that his faith was true; similar to what a coach does for one of his players-pushes them to strengthen them. When Satan “puts someone to the test”, it is for the purpose of sin. But when God “puts someone to the test”, it is to strengthen their faith.
So what is the point of praying, “Lead us not into temptation?” The best explanation I have found is wrapped up in an illustration by Chris Walsh. A mother takes her young children grocery shopping with her and comes to the candy aisle. She knows that taking her children down that aisle will only stir up greediness in their hearts and lead to bouts of whining and pouting. In wisdom, she takes another route. In this way the mother averts unpleasantness and spares her children a trial. Praying, “Lead us not into temptation,” is like praying, “God, please don’t take me down the candy aisle today.” It’s recognizing that we naturally grasp for unprofitable things and that God’s wisdom can prevent the trouble of our bellyaching. And it fits perfectly with 2 Timothy 4:18 “The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom.”
So when you pray, be sure to incorporate the “Disciple’s Prayer” often into your prayer time. And when you do, it wouldn’t hurt to tack on a P.S. “God, please don’t take me down the candy isle today.” It is not only scriptural to pray that way, it is obedience to one of the LORD’s commands. God bless.
Mike Sublett is a pastor at Hi-Land Christian Church, 1615 N. Banks St., Pampa, Texas 79065. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.