The sixth (and last) petition of the Lord’s prayer is “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” (Matt. 6:13) Here’s a simple definition of a temptation: it’s a test to see whether we’ll do right or wrong. For instance, imagine your mom leaves out a plate of freshly-baked double-chocolate-chunk cookies on the table and says, “Those aren’t for you! I’m going to take them to your Great Aunt Bertha this afternoon.” This temptation would be a test for you: will you obey your mother, or will you devour one of those delicious cookies when she isn’t looking?
Our first parents, Adam and Eve, were tempted in the Garden of Eden. After listening to the words of the sneaky serpent, they faced a test: to believe what God said about the forbidden fruit or listen to the serpent. Sadly, this temptation was a test both of them failed spectacularly!
There’s some encouraging news to be heard in 1 Corinthians 10:13 when it comes to temptations. God has promised that “he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” As Christians, we’ll never find ourselves in a tempting situation where there isn’t some sort of God-given escape from sin. God promises to always provide a way for us to pass temptation’s test!
When we pray, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,” we are asking God to give us the strength to pass the test when temptation comes our way. We’re asking him to keep us from doing evil, to take the escape path instead of giving in to sin.
Not only are we praying that God would keep us from sinning, we’re also asking him to “deliver us from evil.” We’re praying that God would keep us safe from the evil things that others would want to do to us. This includes evil that might come from our fellow humans, but also from the servants of the devil, evil angels that would seek to do us harm.
To use the sixth petition as a checklist, you can think back to the sins you just confessed in the fifth petition (“and forgive our debts…”). Then, you can ask God to help you pass the test the next time you are tempted to sin. For example, after praying, “God, forgive me for punching my sister in the nose,” you could go on to pray, “And help me to control my temper the next time she makes me so mad!”