Lord’s Prayer: Lead Us Not Into Temptation
And lead us not into
(Overcoming Our Pride)
Having led us through forgiveness, the Lord’s Prayer turns to temptation. Jesus approaches the subject from a curious angle. He asks us to pray that the Father will not lead us into temptation. This inevitably causes us to ask: Why would an all–good God lead us to the devil’s doorstep? If we believe in the Lord, does he not reward that faith by leading us away from temptation?
Before answering those questions, we need to remember that we are partners with God in this life. Although he regularly grants us blessings in the form of our “daily bread,” how we use and respond to that bread is up to us. Every blessing and talent bestowed by the Holy Spirit carries with it the seeds of our salvation, and our ruin.
This lesson is taught through the story of Christ’s temptation in the wilderness. Jesus becomes “full of the Holy Spirit”1 before it leads him to his sit–down with the devil (a confrontation the Spirit will arrange on our behalf, too, since we must follow in Jesus’s footsteps).2 But why does the great tempter appear when we are full of the Holy Spirit and its glory? The popular cry among Christians is for God to save us from temptation because our spirit is weak. The whole sequence of events sounds strange.
We often don’t pray when we feel strong in spirit, because we don’t even recognize the risk—which makes these moments all the more dangerous. But Jesus warns us of the threat we face when he says that many who are first shall be last3 and that the rich man will find it easier to pass through the eye of a needle than the gates of heaven.4
The danger is the sin of pride. And it is a temptation that Jesus overcame not only in the wilderness, when he refuses to be tempted by the devil into proving himself to be a Son of God or accepting rule over an earthly kingdom,5 but in every village he went to during his short ministry.
That Jesus battles the devil and the sin of pride all the way up to his death is something we often don’t notice. We tend to think that he conquers Satan in the wilderness and that’s the end of it. But in the Book of Luke we are told that the devil, having emptied his bag of tricks, only slips away to wait for his next opportunity.6 Knowing that Satan remains with him but in hiding, Jesus goes about his business in ways to reduce those opportunities for the devil to appear and tempt him into pride.
Worried that Jerusalem will replace the gospel of Christ with…
The Lord’s Prayer. To continue reading, click on page 2 at the bottom.
- On returning from the Jordan, full of the Holy Spirit, Jesus was led by the power of the Spirit through the wilderness for forty days, tempted by the devil. – Luke 4:1 [↩]
- Calling the people and his disciples to him, Jesus said: “If anyone wishes to walk in my steps, let them renounce self, take up their cross, and follow me. – Matthew 16:24 [↩]
- Everyone who has left houses, or brothers, or sisters, or fathers, or mothers, or children, or land, on account of my name, will receive many times as much, and will ‘gain Immortal Life.’ 30 But many who are first now will then be last, and those who are last will be first. – Matthew 19:30 [↩]
- Jesus said again: “My children, how hard a thing it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to get through a eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” – Mark 10:25 [↩]
- Jesus was led up into the wilderness by the Spirit to be tempted by the devil. 2 And, after he had fasted for forty days and forty nights, he became hungry. 3 And the tempter came to him, and said: “If you are God’s Son, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But Jesus answered: “Scripture says: ‘It is not on bread alone that we are to live, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and placing him on the parapet of the temple, said to him: 6 “If you are God’s Son, throw yourself down, for scripture says: ‘He will give his angels commands about thee, And on their hands they will bear thee up, lest ever thou should strike thy foot against a stone.’” 7 “Scripture also says,” answered Jesus, “Thou shall not tempt the Lord thy God.’” 8 The third time, the devil took Jesus to a very high mountain, and showing him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor, said to him: 9 “All these I will give you, if you will fall at my feet and pay homage to me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him: “Begone, Satan! For scripture says: ‘Thou shall pay homage to the Lord thy God and worship him only.’” 11 Then the devil left him alone, and angels came and ministered to him. – Matthew 4:1–11 [↩]
- When he had tried every kind of temptation, the devil left Jesus, till another opportunity. – Luke 4:13 [↩]