The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.
Once a year I am invited to the Joy Circle of our Presbyterian Women to answer questions that have arisen during their monthly Bible Study. This year, one of the questions I fielded had to do with the phrase in the Lord’s Prayer – “lead us not into temptation.” Carol Carter, the Bible Study Leader, had sent me the questions in advance, and noted that their discussion had been prompted by a news report that Pope Francis had suggested that maybe we have been misreading this part of Jesus’ prayer. Carol queried, “We would appreciate your insight on whether it is incorrect wording after all these years. It does seem to imply a rather mischievous role for God.”
The women in the Joy Circle aren’t the only Christians who may have wondered about these words. Does God lead us into temptation? In preparation for our meeting, I consulted several Bible commentaries on the text of the Lord’s Prayer, and found something comforting in a commentary on Matthew by I. Howard Marshall. He writes:
“‘to enter temptation’ means not ‘to be tempted’ to ‘to yield to temptation’, so that the verb reflects a Hebrew causative, and the negative qualifies the idea of entry, so that the thought is not ‘do not cause us to succumb to temptation’, but rather ‘cause us not to succumb to temptation’.”
The prayer we pray here is “God, help to resist those temptations that we face.”
I pray that often.
God, as I walk the daily path in life, lead me by the hand that I will have Your help to resist the temptation that I encounter along the way. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.