Lead us not into temptation

A lot of people struggle with this one and so have sought to amend it. Why on earth would God lead us into temptation? This implies doesn’t it that he might, but surely that would mean he was encouraging us into evil.  Perhaps this is a strong way of emphasising the next part of the prayer “deliver us from evil.” The prayer certainly seems to follow the Hebraic practice of coupling parallel lines to develop emphasis.

It is also worth noting that the prayer finishes at this point and Jesus goes straight to the reason for praying these words:

14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses[1]

This stands out because the words look like they should modify verse 12. Yet. I want to suggest that they modify the whole prayer.  This prayer is all about what it means to know the heavenly father who loves us and pours out his grace and provision to us, expressed ultimately in forgiveness but also seen here in the way that God leads us in life on good paths.

A third thing to consider is that the word “temptation” is sometimes translated as “test” and that seems to be associated with context or perspective. God and Satan use the same circumstances differently, Satan to tempt us to fall in order to harm us, God the Father to test us for our good.  Furthermore, as we discover in the book of Job, Satan needs God’s permission to test us.

This final part of the prayer then is a request that we might continue to enjoy God’s goodness as he guides us safely through life so that we will not fall when evil comes our way.

[1]Matthew 5:14-15.

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