Q.127. What does the sixth request mean?
A. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one means: By ourselves we are too weak to hold our own even for a moment. And our sworn enemies – the devil, the world, and our own flesh – never stop attacking us. And so, Lord, uphold us and make us strong with the strength of your Holy Spirit, so that we may not go down to defeat in this spiritual struggle, but may firmly resist our enemies until we finally win the complete victory.
Read Psalm 103. God is magnificent and wonderful. He is our creator and he knows of what we are made. We are weak creatures, here today and gone tomorrow. We are simple and unable to stand our ground against the evils of this world as the story of Adam and Eve so aptly teaches. All will fall, for all are weak. In this request, God’s people pray for guidance from all that seeks to cause us trouble.
The main focus of this prayer is for God’s leadership in our lives. As believers we are praying for God to lead us away from things that might cause us to sin and fall and lead us into holiness and righteousness and purity. Consider where you would be if God were not gently leading you. Read Psalm 5:1-8.
Jesus’ teaching on the true vine tells us much about human life. We cannot live in holiness if God is not our root and anchor. I have an apple tree in my yard that has three different varieties of apples. If any of the branches were disconnected from the root, it would cease to bear fruit, but properly grafted and nourished, they produce a bountiful harvest. When we pray for God to lead us we are asking that he keep us close and hold us firmly in the good rootstock of Jesus Christ so that the fruit of the kingdom can be grown in our life. Read John 15:1-5.
So what are our great enemies? There are three things in life that seek to draw us away from Christ. They are Satan, the world and our own flesh. Satan hates the Lord and therefore he hates believers and is constantly trying to draw them away from resting in faith and living in holiness. And when this spiritual being is resting, the worldly systems and cultures are trying to form us into their image. Both of these must be resisted but our strength and guidance for such resistance must come from God alone. Read Ephesians 6:10-13 and 2 Corinthians 11:14.
Lest we think that the allure of evil only exists external to ourselves, the catechism reminds us that our own bodies, minds and hearts are also seeking to betray us into the hands of evil. Read James 1:13-16. Though the request of this prayer seems to imply that God tempts us, the Scriptures are clear that God tempts no one. Therefore, we must remember that our natural inclinations lead us into sin, and Jesus is instructing his followers to pray to be lead not into the natural things of life, but into the supernatural or spiritual things we need to live righteously.
In short, our Brother Jesus Christ is instructing his followers to pray for deliverance and victory. Though the tenor of this request has frequently been given a negative tone, in actuality this is a prayer for great success in life by grounding one’s hope upon God alone and his leadership and salvation in our lives. Read 1 Corinthians 10:1-14 and 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24.