With our examination Sunday of the final phrases of the Lord’s Prayer, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,” we complete our reflection together on this precious legacy of our faith. As I said on Sunday, while we may be done talking about it together on Sundays, the prayer is not done with us.
As followers of Christ our destiny is to be shaped and conformed ever more closely to His image. We are to become more and more a people of love and forgiveness and servanthood; a people who go to the back of the line rather than the front; a people who get down on hands and knees to wash feet instead of expecting luxurious seats at the head table. We are to become more and more a people who willingly follow him wherever that journey takes us. We know where it ended for him: in a painful, self sacrificing death on a cross; a death that set us free from sin and death and everything that would keep us from being what God would have us be.
That means our destiny is always a cross. One of the important ways we shape and strengthen our spirits for that challenging destiny is through praying this shaping prayer:
- Reminding ourselves that the God we pray to is the God of not only earth but heaven; the sovereign Lord of the universe, who has power to do what needs to be done
- Surrendering our strong ideas about how the world should be shaped to His idea about how the world should be shaped; surrendering our strong will to His will; becoming willing to go wherever He asks us to go, to do whatever He asks us to do
- Depending upon God for daily bread, not the Fry’s on the corner; admitting our inadequacy to provide for ourselves and our need for God’s provision; acknowledging that God’s intention is for all to have the bread they need, not just the privileged few
- Acknowledging our need for forgiveness, and our resolute intention to forgive those whose words and deeds offend and hurt us
- Saying out loud together that we are very bad at resisting temptation, and we need God’s help to keep us out of compromising situations
- Remembering that there is rampant evil in the world that we can never face on our own, and asking for God’s deliverance from that evil
- Declaring to ourselves and to the world that all things are in quite safe in the hands of our God, who is the creator, sustainer, and redeemer of the whole cosmos.
Don’t ever stop praying this prayer. God isn’t ever quite done with us, at least in THIS life. He never stops working on our hearts and spirits. We shouldn’t, either.
Blessings and peace