Church columnist: The prayer of faith, part 5
As we have studied through the prayer that Jesus taught His disciples, in Matthew 6:9-13, we have noticed the following principles of faithful prayer:
1) It is addressed to the Heavenly Father;
2) it gives reverence and honor to Him;
3) it expresses concern for His kingdom;
4) it seeks God’s provision;
5) it both seeks and expresses God’s pardon;
6) it appeals to God for His protection.
In this fifth, and last, part we will discuss the final principle of faithful prayer: pray for God’s protection.
In Matthew 6:13, Jesus taught His disciples to pray that they be not led into temptation. When we want to see what temptation is we can look at James 1:12-15. James says that we are “tempted” when we are drawn away from God by our own desires and “enticed.”
We all face temptation because there are always things that we desire, things that entice us to leave off following God and turn back to the world (cf. 1 John 2:15-16). So, what is it we are praying for when we pray for God to “lead us not into temptation”?
It is a prayer for God’s protection – His strength and encouragement – against those things that would “entice” us to sin.
Temptation itself is not sin. Jesus was tempted (Matthew 4:1-11; Hebrews 4:15). But Jesus didn’t sin (2 Corinthians 5:21). James said that temptation leads to sin and sin leads to death. Praying not to be led into temptation is to pray that we not even set our foot in the direction of sin. It is cutting sin off at the roots. Temptation leads to sin so avoid those things that tempt you, those desires that draw you to go against God. “Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;” (Psalm 1:1). The “blessed man” doesn’t even point his foot in the same direction as the ungodly!
If we are led by God then we are led away from temptation, not toward it. The next line of Psalm 1 says the blessed man delights in the law of the Lord day and night (Psalm 1:2). He is not led in the way of the ungodly so he’s not going to end up standing with sinners or sitting with the scornful.
He didn’t even start down that direction because he was led by the word of God (i.e. “the law of the Lord). The apostle Paul tells us that, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:1).
And, “as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God” (Romans 8:14). So, the sons of God are not led into temptation because they are following the leading of the Spirit by the word of God.
The next part of the prayer in Matthew 6:13 says, “But deliver us from the evil one.” The devil will always be using the things of the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 John 2:15-16) — to try and cause us to fall. It is “the evil one” that wants to destroy our spiritual life!
He “walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). As long as we are led by the Spirit of God through His word, we submit to God and resist the the devil (James 4:7). In our submission to God’s word we have protection from the devil – he will flee from us!
Notice the protection we have through God’s holy word. We have “the whole armor of God” when we keep ourselves in His word (Ephesians 6:10-20). Every piece of that armor is provided by the word of God. Girded with truth (Ephesians 6:14) – God’s word is truth (John 17:17). Wearing the breastplate of righteousness (Ephesians 6:14) – the word of righteousness (Hebrews 5:13). Feet shod with the gospel (Ephesians 6:15) – the preaching of God’s word (1 Corinthians 15:1). Holding up the shield of faith (Ephesians 6:16) – the faith that comes by hearing the word of God (Romans 10:17). Having the helmet of salvation (Ephesians 6:17) – the gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16). Taking the fight to the devil with “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17).
We are fully clothed in God’s protective armor when we keep ourselves in His word!
Never forget how Jesus protected Himself against the temptations of “the evil one.” Every temptation that the devil brought against Him was answered with “It is written” (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10). We can, and must, protect ourselves against temptation in the same way — by saying with Christ, “it is written.”
When we pray for God’s protection from temptation and “the evil one,” we are praying for a stronger resolve to stay in the word of God for all the protection that God has put there for our spiritual defense (Ephesians 6:18-20). Paul wanted the diligent prayers of the church that the protective gospel of Christ would continue to spread and be preached with boldness.
When you pray for God’s protection let it be an expression of your resolve to be led by the word of God and not to allow “the evil one” to draw you away from God.
If you missed any of these installments of “The Prayer of Faith,” you can read all of them on our website at northsidelagrangechurch.org.