By Ryan Shaw
This is the sixth petition in the “Lord’s Prayer.” Jesus reveals the importance of praying for other disciples around the world to spiritually stand strong, overcoming every fiery dart of temptation that comes their way.
It is often wrongly assumed that such power to overcome will simply be there when needed because of God’s goodness. Scripture advocates our role in this process through the crucial medium of ongoing prayer.
In this petition Jesus teaches the need to pray for the release of spiritual strength in the inner-most being of others through the Holy Spirit. This is part of His means of delivering disciples in the midst of temptations assailing their lives at this very moment.
This may be one of the most neglected prayers in the Bible. We are meant to pray regularly for one another in this way – whether or not others are presently in the midst of temptation.
In doing so, God empowers believers as they are going through a future temptation. Once in the temptation it is often difficult (though not impossible) to extricate oneself. This prayer is a revelation of one of God’s chief weapons to overcome temptation, releasing deliverance even before the actual temptation comes.
Temptation is common to all and we never know when it will come. Jesus is teaching that if we will consistently pray for overcoming power to be released in one another we will see more believers living in spiritual victory over temptation.
Our consistent prayer should be “deliver us from temptation and evil before we come across it.” We are told in another place in Scripture to be aware of the schemes of the enemy so we can fight him wisely. He is crafty, seeking opportune times to assault our faith.
It is this prayer Jesus warned His disciples to pray as they were with Him in the garden of Gethsemane the night He was betrayed. In essence He tells them “guard your hearts and pray for deliverance because you will be tempted tonight!” (Matthew 26:43).
This was not general temptation to lie or steal. But specific, focused temptation meant to destroy their faith. Such temptation only comes at opportune times set by the enemy himself and has many purposes.
First, to shipwreck our faith. The enemy seeks to motivate us to evil, bringing us to turn our backs on Jesus.
Second, to give up our spiritual mandate or assignment in life from God. Satan wants to tempt us, getting us off track in the divine intention of our life.
Third, temptation is meant to get us to follow Jesus from a distance and not with the passionate pursuit of a true disciple.
Certain components often accompany this type of heightened temptation. There is an unusually gripping sense related to a particular issue (fear, lust, bitterness, envy, anger, pride, etc).
It is an irrational gripping that takes a hold of us in a given moment. It is in this experience that circumstances are optimal for failure.
The Father has spiritual power ready to be released on believers to withstand such fiery temptations. But we must ask and receive it by faith into our circumstances. He cannot and will not do our part for us.
God is victorious over the evil one, defeating him at the cross. Yet the devil still wields much power in this age. God’s authority to overcome every temptation is much greater, however, than Satan’s power to motivate us toward a temptation.
Yet there is a requirement of taking up (or appropriating) that spiritual authority provided by the Spirit in each instance. We receive His strength by faith to overcome and then do so by His grace (enabling & empowering).
It is important to note the difference between temptations and tests. We are not taught to pray to be delivered from all difficult situations. That is not in focus here at all.
What are referred to in this petition are the evils of temptation toward the end of bringing us great spiritual harm. This is entirely different from the God-ordained tests that build, shape and mold disciples into the image of Christ.
Temptation is meant to steal, kill or destroy something in our lives and destinies in God.
Temptations sidetrack, derail and take us out of living for God and participating in the in-breaking of the kingdom of God on the earth. We seek the Father to help us and others stand in the fire of temptation meant to tear us down in God.
Conversely, tests from God are designed to grow and expand our spiritual capacities and develop us to walk in His purpose for us.
God matures us and develops us as we face challenging issues and walk obediently in the midst of them. The wide variety of tests Joseph experienced in the book of Genesis reveal God’s use of tests meant to develop and prepare us in God.