We now come to the close of our brief visit into the seventeenth century, and the Westminster Shorter Catechism’s questions on the Lord’s Prayer.
Q. 106. What do we pray for in the sixth petition?
A. In the sixth petition, (which is, And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, (Matt. 6:13)) we pray, That God would either keep us from being tempted to sin, (Matt. 26:41) or support and deliver us when we are tempted. (2 Cor. 12:7–8)
We are all too aware of our weaknesses, the things which we cannot seem to stop doing. The existence of the dieting industry, and ‘dry January’ bears witness that we are not alone in this. Discipline is not the easiest thing.
In the final request of the Lord’s Prayer, there is a two-fold approach to this issue. First of all we pray that we would avoid the things that tempt us. If you are giving up chocolate for Lent, it is best to clear the cupboards of Mars Bars. One of the best ways to help temptations die is to avoid the things which trigger them.
Sometimes, however, that’s not so easy. Go and pay at a petrol station and you will inevitably find yourself standing beside a long and well stocked display of confectionary. The second half of this part of the Lord’s Prayer therefore asks that we will be delivered from evil. When urge hits, it is all that we can do to pray for strength and that God would support us through the next ninety seconds of temptation. At those times, hold fast to these words from the Apostle Paul:
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; 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 stand up under it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)