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Understanding God's Will through the Lord's Prayer


[if !supportLists]· [endif]Illustration: Colonel Gracie survived the sinking of the Titanic because of the prayers of his wife.

[if !supportLists]· [endif]Of all the prayers we pray, the most frequent and most fervent is the prayer for protection.

[if !supportLists]· [endif]It was probably one of the first prayers you learned to pray as a child: Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. And if I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.

[if !supportLists]· [endif]Stories like that of Colonel Gracie and his wife encourage us to keep on praying these kinds of prayers. But at the same time, we know there were others on board that ship who didn't survive.

[if !supportLists]· [endif]How are we supposed to pray in the face of difficulty and danger, and what can we expect from God when we do?

[if !supportLists]· [endif]To answer these questions, I want us to explore the last few lines of the Lord's Prayer. It's just a handful of words, but they raise all kinds of questions—and offer a remarkable promise.

"Lead us"

[if !supportLists]· [endif]The word Jesus uses here is not the usual word for "lead," which means "to direct" or "to go in front." The word used means "to bring" or "to carry."

[if !supportLists]· [endif]This is not a general directing his troops from the safety of a distant hilltop; it's more like a shepherd walking alongside the flock as they make their way through the valley of shadow.

[if !supportLists]· [endif]The prayer is not "keep us" from temptation and evil; the prayer is "lead us"—"bring us through;" "show us the way."

[if !supportLists]· [endif]Illustration: If you hire a guide to take you on a wilderness trip, you don't expect him to eliminate (keep you from) all the obstacles and challenges. You want him to show you the way.

[if !supportLists]· [endif]This simple prayer assures us that the Lord will not only show us the way, he'll be right there beside us to carry us through.

"Not into temptation"

[if !supportLists]· [endif]As we say the next words in the prayer, we wonder what they mean and why we have to say them.

[if !supportLists]· [endif]Temptation is a solicitation to evil—an invitation to do the wrong thing. When you tempt someone, you want them to fail.

[if !supportLists]· [endif]We know from Scripture that God would never do that. James 1:13

[if !supportLists]· [endif]This word can also be translated as "test." Like a teacher, when you test someone, you want them to pass.

[if !supportLists]· [endif]While God will never lead us into temptation, he might take a temptation—a solicitation to evil—and turn it into a test—an opportunity to prove ourselves.

[if !supportLists]· [endif]Illustration: Driving someone on a diet to an ice cream stand would be a temptation. Someone happening upon an ice cream stand finds themselves in a moment of testing.

[if !supportLists]· [endif]The prayer might be paraphrased in this manner: As we make our way through this difficult and dangerous world, Lord, lead us; bring us through situations that could lead to our downfall, and turn them into opportunities to do the right thing, so we can move on to bigger and better things.

[if !supportLists]· [endif]This prayer simply reminds us to turn to God when we encounter temptation, asking him for the strength to drive right past so we can move on to bigger and better things.

"But deliver us from evil"

[if !supportLists]· [endif]Again, the prayer isn't "Keep us from evil," but "Deliver us from evil." This is not a prayer for immunity from trouble or danger or spiritual attack.

[if !supportLists]· [endif]The Lord never promises that if we pray enough, bad things won't happen. In fact, the word "deliver" assumes trouble.

[if !supportLists]· [endif]Notice also that it is "Deliver us from evil," not "Deliver us from harm." This isn't so much about physical safety as it is about spiritual safety.

[if !supportLists]· [endif]Evil speaks of those dark forces in the world and in our souls that threaten to tear us away from God and to thwart his good purpose for our lives. John 17:15

[if !supportLists]· [endif]Deliverance from evil is not immunity from the hard things of life, but divine intervention that preserves and even strengthens our faith.

[if !supportLists]· [endif]It turns out that our childhood prayer wasn't so far off after all: "If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take." It reminds us that nothing—not even death—can separate us from God's love and purposes.

[if !supportLists]· [endif]Whatever may come, we have this prayer, a prayer that invites God to bring us through trials and temptations with our faith intact and his glory increased.

"For thine is the kingdom"

[if !supportLists]· [endif]That brings us to the final movement in this prayer: "For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever."

[if !supportLists]· [endif]As most Bibles indicate, that phrase isn't present in the oldest and most reliable manuscripts. Still, it certainly is a biblical truth and a fitting way to end the prayer!

[if !supportLists]· [endif]Real prayer doesn't just begin with God, it ends with God, too.

[if !supportLists]· [endif]Here we have just the right words to close out a prayer for protection—a reminder that God's kingdom alone is advancing, and that all the power and glory is due him forever.

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