From the time we wake up to the time we lay down everyone wants to tell us their opinion about something. Our world is full of voices of various kinds. We watch TV and hear (much louder than the program we are watching) advertisers on commercials telling us to buy things.
We attend meetings at work in which everyone around the table demands that their way is the best. Some attend schools where the professors tell them what to believe and think instead of how to think.
From counselors and psychologists suggest to married couples unethical and immoral approaches to solving marital problems. We are surrounded by voices that push and pull us in many directions.
That’s why it’s imperative that we hear and listen to God’s voice. We want to be led by him because he is making us holy. People in the world seek happiness but God wants more for us. Happiness comes when God makes us holy. His roads and ways are not easy but they are rewarding.
The final part of the Lord’s Prayer asks God to lead us (Matthew 6:13). But for him to lead us, we must be willing to listen and follow. This is why prayer is not a one-way conversation. Yes, we speak to God and ask him for things. But we must also listen to hear his voice so that we can follow his lead.
Jesus is the Lord of our life, which means we follow his leading and his teachings. There are many books on hearing God’s voice. Some of the better ones that I have read include:
- Hearing God by Dallas Willard
- Hearing God’s Voice by Henry Blackaby
- The Disciplines of the Holy Spirit by Dallas Willard
- Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster
- The Life You’ve Always Wanted by John Ortberg
Praying for God’s Guidance (Matthew 6:13)
The last principle for powerful prayer is to pray for God’s guidance. Of the entire prayer, this has the most nuances. What I mean by that is there are several words that we must interpret to fully understand how to pray this part of the Lord’s Prayer.
The first of the final two lines requests, “Lead us not into temptation.” When I studied this in college, I received an appreciation for the ability to read the original language. Even when I was a child this part confused me.
Why would a good God who wants me to be holy lead me into temptation? While temptation is not sin, it is the step toward it. Leading me in that direction would seem counterintuitive to becoming holy.
Indeed, James teaches us that God does not tempt anyone nor is he tempted by evil (James 1:13). At face value, this seems to contradict praying for God not to do what James says he doesn’t do anyway.
So let me clear up hundreds of years of translation history. I asked my Greek teacher why this passage and some others are translated literally differently than English Bible versions. Anyone who takes Greek learns quickly that the English translations of some verses we adore are incorrect.
Please understand I am not arrogant. But I have been studying the original languages since 2003. And everyone who knows those languages agrees with me on certain versus. He would shake his head and say, “Jon, translation history requires that we not change the text too much.”
Translation history means scholars have translated into English the original text a certain way. People have become so used to seeing it that way and memorizing it that way that changing it raises too many questions. The Lord’s Prayer is one of those iconic passages that people say and never eyes one way.
In the last blog post I mentioned that some Bible versions have “trespasses” while others have “debts.” Some people rail against changing the word from the traditional “trespasses.” The word for temptation follows the same logic.
It doesn’t make sense to ask God not to lead us into temptation. He doesn’t do that anyway. But people have been saying the Lord’s Prayer this way with this word in English for so long that we have become used to hearing it sent that way.
The Greek word for “temptation” can also mean “trial” or “testing.” With that information, try seeing this request with those words instead of the word “temptation.”
“And lead us not into trials…”
“And lead us not into testings…”
Now we have a whole different perspective on the request we give to God. We are not asking God to not tempt us. We ask God to not lead us into trials. Nobody likes trials or suffering. And it’s not necessarily that God leads us into trials. It is more that he uses them when we face them.
God will use the trials we face to make our faith stronger, to put our faith on display, and to train and teach us. We see him do this throughout Scripture. That does not mean we want to face those trials. However, the end product is beneficial.
When we take the second meaning, it reminds me of Abraham in Genesis 22. To ask God not to lead us into testing takes me back to when God tested Abraham concerning Isaac (Genesis 22:1). You see, God promised that Abraham would have an heir through his wife Sarah.
But Sarah did not believe at first. Instead, she offered her maidservant, Hagar, to Abraham because she was barren. The promise required her to believe for the miracle not only of having a child though she was barren, but also because she was in her 90s.
Abraham agreed to this arrangement and Ishmael was born. But Ishmael was not the promised son. Because Abraham and Sarah did not completely trust in the Lord to fulfill his promise and his timing, we still have trouble today between the descendents of Ishmael and Isaac.
It’s after all of this that God tests Abraham to see that his faith in God’s promises is absolute. He takes the one thing that Abraham cannot replace, the promised son Isaac, and demands that Abraham sacrifice his child on the mountain.
Now God doesn’t demand child sacrifices. But he was testing whether Abraham would trust in him to either replace Isaac through his promise or provide another sacrifice. So God tested Abraham’s faith.
And the test worked. Abraham was willing to sacrifice his promised son. At the moment he was about to thrust the knife into Isaac, and Angel stopped him. God provided a ram in the thicket on the mountain to sacrifice to him instead.
Abraham’s take away from the testing is that the Lord always provides (Genesis 22:14). So we see that God’s trials and testings turn out for our good. But we still don’t wish that he would lead us into them. And that is what this first line of the ending of the Lord’s Prayer means.
There are times when He will not keep us from the trials of life, and when He will use those trials to make us stronger. A trial that God can use to make you stronger is not evil, because the product of that trial will be stronger, more trusting, and more patient.
The second line says, “But deliver us from evil.” This also has something extra in the original language. The word, “evil” can also mean, “the evil one.” So this can be a reference either to evil in general in the world or Satan, the evil one.
In either case, we ask the Lord to deliver us, to keep us from, evil or the evil one. We live in an evil world that is subject to the Prince of the Power of the Air (Ephesians 2:2). For the time being, this is the devil’s playground. We work here for the Lord but we don’t belong here.
So we ask the Lord not to lead us into trials or testing, and also to keep us from the evil around us. It is, at the least, distracting and, at the most, a temptation. This flows nicely from what we have already asked of the Lord.
We have already asked him to give us everything we need for physical and spiritual health. And then we have asked him to forgive us of our trespasses and sins. We have promised to forgive others because Jesus forgave us first. All of this maintains our spiritual health.
And in these final two lines we continue to receive spiritual protection from the Lord. He does not willingly push us into trials and tests. And he protects us from evil and the evil one. Job had quite the testing to show his faithfulness to God in the face of Satan’s accusations (Job 1-2).
We need God’s guidance in our lives, and God guides our steps (Proverbs 16:9). When we seek Him and His will, he guides us. When we seek his leadership in our lives, we ask him to go before us and order our steps. We ask God to continue to redeem and bless our lives with good things.
No matter what trials we come against, we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God will walk with us through those trials, and if we listen to Him and follow His lead, He makes us stronger on the other side.
I must make a note about what you may see in your Bible after this verse. Some Bibles have, “For yours is the kingdom and the glory and the power forever. Amen.” But we are almost certain with the many manuscripts we have of this passage that this phrase was added later.
It is a nice way to end the prayer but it is not original to what Jesus said as far as we understand. If you want to know more about how we know this, please let me know in the comments and I will talk about how most scholars have come to that conclusion.
The Model Prayer helps us to see our place in God rather than demanding things of Him. It teaches us to seek God for all things, to trust in His greatness and to see Him as bigger than our problems. It is unselfish communion with God.
Prayer becomes more about God than us, and we maintain our service in God’s plan, rather than doing our own thing. Prayer places God as King over our circumstances and brings us peace because we trust in the mighty God.
This model leads to effective prayer that produces the power of God for our lives today! Let us endeavor to pray like Jesus, and we will see God’s hand move in our lives, our churches and our world!
The next prayer model we will consider is the Armor of God in Ephesians 6. Paul tells us to put on God’s armor but how do we do that? Prayer is an excellent way to arm ourselves for the battles around us.
Leave a comment and tell me how this series on the Lord’s Prayer may have helped you in your own prayer life. Is there anything you have considered that I may not have mentioned?