Please open your Bible at Matthew 6. This is the last week in our series on the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus teaches us that there are…
Six things to ask of God
- We want God’s Name to be honored
We saw that God’s answer to a world that despises His name is a people who know His name (Isaiah 52:5-6). When we pray for God’s name to be honored, we are praying that all who bear His name will do so in a way that honors Him, and that God will raise up in this generation, people who treasure Him above all else.
- We want God’s Kingdom to come
God is a great King and He will establish a glorious kingdom. God’s kingdom comes where people submit to His rule, and when Christ returns, the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdom of our Lord and Christ, and He will reign forever (Revelation 11:15). So when we pray this second petition, we are praying for all who have not yet submitted to His rule, and we are praying that we will submit ourselves more fully to the Lordship of Christ.
- We want God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven
We saw that God has a will that is secret, a will that can be discerned, and a will that has been revealed. So when we pray, ‘Your will be done,’ we are asking for faith in what God has kept secret, for wisdom with what God has called us to discern, and for obedience to what God has revealed.
After these three petitions that relate to God and His glory, our Lord teaches us to ask for three things that relate to ourselves and our needs. These are strung together as if there were one request. Now, what do we need in this world?
- We need to be sustained
Give us this day our daily bread. – Matthew 6:11
Every good gift comes from the hand of God, and here we ask Him for all that we need for life: food, clothing, work, and shelter. And we ask this not only for ourselves but also for others whose needs may be greater than our own.
- We need to be forgiven and to forgive
Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. – Matthew 6:12
God has called us to love: To love Him with all of your heart and to love your neighbor as yourself. We have debts because we have fallen short in what we owe. We have debtors because others have fallen short in what they owe. So we need to forgive and we need to be forgiven. When we pray “Forgive us our debts,” we are asking not only that God will forgive us for the wrong we have done, but that He will forgive others who have wronged us as well.
Now today, we come to the last petition of the Lord’s Prayer. Before we get into it, some of you may be wondering, what about the ending? “For yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever, amen.” If you are looking at the Lord’s Prayer in the Bible, you will notice that these words are not there. At the bottom of the page, there is a footnote that says, “Some manuscripts add, ‘For yours in the kingdom and the power and the glory forever, amen.’” Most likely, these words were added by some scribe at some point, as a response of praise to the words Jesus has taught us to pray. So it is entirely appropriate to use these words when we pray, but what our Lord clearly taught is that there are six things to ask of God in prayer. And the last of these 6 petitions in Matthew 6:13 is:
And led us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. – Matthew 6:13
The Christian life is a battle, and the battle is fought on two fronts: There are temptations that lurk within us, and there is evil that is around us. So Paul says,
For even when we came into Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were afflicted at every turn— fighting without and fear within – 2 Corinthians 7:5
Why did the Apostle say that he was afflicted? There were two reasons: When we looked out, all we saw was fighting. When we looked within, all we saw was fear. The battle is always fought on these two fronts, and if we are to honor God’s Name, advance His kingdom and do His will, we need not only to be sustained and forgiven, we also need to be delivered from evil in two spheres: from the temptations that lurk within us, and the evil that is all around us.
That is our focus today, and it could not possibly be more relevant. We’re going to look at three things together: 1. Why we need this prayer? 2. What we’re asking in this prayer? 3. How God answers this prayer?
1. Why We Need This Prayer
And led us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. – Matthew 6:13
Evil is introduced at the beginning of the Bible story. God made everything good, but in the garden, was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The man and the woman had the knowledge of good, so all that would be gained by eating from this tree was the knowledge of evil. God said ‘Do not eat of it (Genesis 2:17). There is a terrible reality called evil. It is outside of your experience, and I do not want you ever to know its destructive power, so do not eat of this tree.’ But the man and the woman decided that they wanted this knowledge of evil. So they got it, and we all have lived with it ever since.
Evil is a destructive power that has intruded into God’s good universe. It includes all that came into the world through and after the fall that was not there before.
Evil comes in many forms. Four of them are described in the book of Revelation, where John saw four horses with riders. They are known as the four horsemen of the apocalypse (Revelation 6). First there was a white horse:
And I looked, and behold, a white horse! And its rider had a bow, and a crown was given to him, and he came out conquering, and to conquer – Revelation 6:2
Some people think this is a reference to Christ, but Christ is the one opened these seals (v1). It seems to me that the four horsemen all represent destructive powers that stalk human history. The first of these is war; going out to conquer; empires rise. One group of people seek to rule another with all the pain and destruction this brings, and this is evil. Then there was a red horse:
And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword – Revelation 6:4
The first horse was abuse of power by the state. The second is the breakdown of the community. Violence erupts. People are killing each other. Then there was a black horse:
And I looked, and behold, a black horse! And its rider had a pair of scales in his hand… – Revelation 6:5
Then John heard a voice saying,
A quart of wheat for a denarius… and do not harm the oil and the wine! – Revelation 6:5
So here we have famine and real poverty. A small amount of wheat costs a whole day’s wages. But then, ‘Do not harm the oil and the wine!’ While the basic necessities of the many are hard to obtain, luxuries enjoyed by a few seem to be protected, and this too is evil. Then there was a pale horse:
And I looked, and behold, a pale horse! And its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed him. And they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth. – Revelation 6:8
All of the horsemen bring death. They bring it by war, conflict, famine and disease. Evil has intruded into every part of God’s world: the political, social, judicial, economic, ecological, and biological. Look at the news any day of life and you will find that the headlines are about these dimensions of evil that have intruded into God’s world. Its everywhere. This is why we desperately need to pray this prayer: ‘Deliver us from evil.’ But we ask God to deliver us from evil not only because its fruit is all around us, but also because its root lies deep within us.
“Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” That’s us, those who call You Father; us Your children. Why are we tempted? Why does sin have a landing place in our lives? Well “each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire” (James 1:14-15). As Christians we can never look down on the world from a position of superiority. Sin is like a fountain within us that constantly throws up temptations with which we have to contend.
J I Packer has a marvelous picture of this which I read many years ago and have never forgotten:
Can you see your own life in terms of being threatened and endangered by evil of all sorts and so of needing God’s deliverance every moment? You are like a person wandering blindfolded and with ears plugged in the middle of a city street with traffic coming both ways.
We are in constant danger, thus we need this prayer: “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” Temptation lurks within us and evil is all around us. Jesus teaches His disciples how to pray because this is the nature of our lives and of the nature of the world in which we live. That is why we need this prayer, but what does it mean?
2. What We Ask in this Prayer
And led us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. – Matthew 6:13
Our Lord used the same words ‘into temptation” in the Garden of Gethsemane, when He said to the disciples, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41). Everyone is tempted. Jesus does not say ‘Watch and pray so that you will not be tempted.’ That’s simply not possible. That will not be your experience in this world. You will be tempted, but what Jesus said was “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” In other words, watch and pray so that temptation does not overwhelm you. This is what Jesus teaches us to ask in the Lord’s Prayer. ‘Father, do not let me get to the place where temptation overwhelms me. Guard me from that, by helping me to watch and pray.’
This is a common theme in the Bible. Paul says to Timothy, ‘keep a close watch on yourself’ (1 Timothy 4:16). To the elders at Ephesus, ‘Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers’ (Acts 20:28). Watch and pray, and Christ will give you strength to prevail in the battle.
Then Jesus teaches us to pray ‘Deliver us from evil’ When we pray ‘deliver us’ we are not saying ‘we can do it.’ We are not even saying, ‘we can do this but we need a bit of help.’ When we pray ‘deliver us from evil, we are saying to God, ‘this power is too great for us, but it is not too great for you.’
Picture a hostage tied to a chair. He is blindfolded and he is locked in a prison. He can’t get out. He needs to be delivered; He needs someone to storm the building and set him free. When we see war, injustice, famine, disease, Jesus tells us to pray, ‘Deliver us from evil!’ ‘Father, come and do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.’
Now, will this prayer be answered? Yes, you can be sure of that. The fact that Jesus teaches us to pray, ‘deliver us from evil,’ is your guarantee that this prayer will be answered. Evil will not ultimately prevail.
3. How God Answers This Prayer
And led us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. – Matthew 6:13
How will God answer this critical prayer? God answers this last petition of the Lord’s Prayer by His marvelous grace, and the word ‘grace’ means something undeserved that is freely given. God’s grace operates in many wonderful ways, and I want to identify four of them.
a. Common Grace
God’s kindness to all people including those who defy Him.
When we pray ‘deliver us from evil,’ God answers this prayer through common grace, which is His kindness to all people, including those who defy Him. If it is true that by nature we are dead in trespasses and sins, why is it that so many unbelieving people live peaceful, happy and productive lives? Why is it that those who do not believe are often kind, patient and considerate? The answer to this question is common grace: God’s kindness to all people including those who defy Him.
Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons
of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good,
and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. – Matthew 5:44-45
Every good gift comes from the hand of God and that includes the good gifts enjoyed by those who do not believe. The blessings of love and family; the creative gifts of music and art; the discoveries of science and medicine, and the brilliant minds that led to them… Where did all this good come from? It came from God, in whom the person who enjoys these gifts may not even believe. That’s common grace.
The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made. – Psalm 145:9
In His kindness to all, God not only gives what is good, He also restrains what is evil. However bad this world is, it could be worse. However evil human beings become, we could be worse. The worst of people are not as the demons of hell, and the reason for this is common grace. If God no longer restrains, it is a sign of His wrath. Romans 1 speaks about how God may give sinners up to the evil they persist in choosing. The point of course is that God’s usual way is to restrain the worst in us for the common good.
God restrains through conscience, which is His gift to us, and He restrains through government, that is also His gift to us (Romans 13:1-7). Now conscience and government can both be corrupted, but any conscience and any government is better than none. So when we pray, ‘deliver us from evil,’ we are asking God for common grace. ‘Lord, in your mercy restrain the worst in us, in our community, in our country, and in our world. Raise up people of good will, and grant peace and justice to prevail in Your world.’ God answers this prayer with common grace, then God answers this prayer through…
b. Special Grace
God’s kindness when we are tested.
When we pray, “Lead us not into temptation,” God answers this prayer through special grace which is His kindness given particularly to strengthen us at times when we are tested. Here is something very wonderful that is yours as a believer: God gives special help for special trials at special times.
Paul describes this from his own experience. There were times when he had plenty, and there were times when he had great need, and for these times God gave Him special help. “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13). God gave strength to match the trial that Paul was facing at a difficult time, and God will do the same for you. He will give you all that you need for all that you face, especially in a time of great testing, temptation or trial.
You see the same thing in 2 Corinthians 12 where Paul speaks about a great trial that he endured over a long period of time. He does not tell us what this was, but he describes it as a ‘thorn in my flesh,’ indicating that it was always with him, and that it was very painful. God did not take it away, but God gave special grace to bear it.
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. – 2 Corinthians 12:9
God says in this promise, ‘When you are at the point where you feel that you can bear no more, when you feel that you are stretched to your limit, God’s grace will be sufficient for you. He will infuse His strength into your weakness, so that you will be able to endure. That’s special grace. There’s an old hymn that says,
All the way my Savior leads me,
cheers each winding path I tread
Gives me grace for every trial,
feeds me with the living bread.
When we pray, “lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil,” God answers with special grace that will enable you to endure.
c. Restoring Grace
God’s kindness when we have failed.
Thank God for this. On the night Jesus was betrayed, Peter was tempted. Jesus said, ‘Watch and pray that you do not enter into temptation’ (Matthew 26:41), but Peter did not watch and Peter did not pray. Jesus knew that Peter would enter into temptation and He said, “Before the rooster crows you will deny me three times” (Mathew 26:34). But Jesus said something else:
Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers – Luke 22:31-32
Jesus knew that Peter would fail, but He prayed that Peter’s faith would not fail, and that’s why sin did not have the last word in Peter’s life. He ‘turned again.’ That’s restoring grace.
Jesus went to the cross and died for sinners like Peter and like us. Then He rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven, where He intercedes for us. He speaks to the Father and prays on our behalf. That’s why sin will never have the final word in your life. Like Peter, you will fail, but like Peter, you will ‘turn again,’ and when you repent, you will be restored. Why? Because Christ has prayed for you. Even when you fall into temptation, Christ will never let you go.
There is a wonderful verse in Micah that will help you when temptation overcomes you, especially if you feel defeated by your own repeated failure.
Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise;
when I sit in darkness, the LORD will be a light to me. – Micah 7:8
That’s restoring grace! The Lord is the light in your darkness. The Lord is your shepherd and He will restore your soul. The enemy may have knocked you down, but by God’s grace you will rise up forgiven and restored. Sin can never have the last word in a believer’s life. Christ intercedes for you, and God’s grace will never let you go. When we pray “lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil,” God answers with restoring grace that will enable you to rise up from the darkness and follow Christ who is your light.
“Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” God answers this prayer through common grace, special grace, restoring grace, and finally the greatest of all:
d. Saving Grace
God’s kindness when we turn to Him in faith and repentance.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God – Ephesians 2:8
Maybe you are not yet a believer, but you are feeling the pull of a strong temptation in your life, and you are beginning to think, ‘I need help; I need deliverance; I need a Savior.’ Well, Jesus is the Savior you need. Or maybe you are at a place where you know you need forgiveness that only God can give. Perhaps you need God’s help to forgive someone who has wronged you and wounded you deeply. Perhaps you are in need. You need God to give you what you do not have and what you cannot find. You need Him to give you your daily bread. Or maybe you have found yourself despairing of this world. Will it ever change? You need the hope that only Christ and the coming of His kingdom can bring. These are the things that you can ask of God, and the asking begins when you come to know God as your own Father, through faith in His Son Jesus Christ.
When you believe in His name, God will adopt you into His own family. He will bring you into an entirely new relationship with Himself, and as a child of God you will have more than common grace. You will receive saving grace, and when you are tested, God will give you special grace, and when you fail God will give you restoring grace. God will put His Holy Spirit in you, giving you a new love for Him and for others. Because you love Him you will have a new desire that God’s name will be honored because He is your Father, and you have come to discover His great love. You’ll have a new hope inside you because of the coming of His kingdom to which you belong. You’ll have a new strength to do His will. You will have a new confidence because you know your Father will provide for you. You’ll have a new peace because you know that Christ has forgiven you, and you’ll have a new security because you know God will deliver you. So I want to invite you, right now, to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ: Ask Him to save you. Ask Him to make you His own. Then you will be able to say with all of God’s people,
Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me
I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.
Through many dangers toils and snares I have already come
Tis grace that brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home. 
Our Father in heaven, we come before You today profoundly aware of our utter dependence on You. We grieve that Your name is not honored, that Your will is not done, and we long to see Your kingdom come in power and glory.
Father, today we pray, ‘deliver us from evil.’ Our nation is in turmoil. Deliver us from racism. Deliver us from rioting. Deliver us from this virus. In our polarized society, raise up people of reason, wisdom and goodwill. We sometimes fear that what we experience may be an outpouring of Your wrath. That You may be giving us up to sins we have persisted in choosing. O Lord, do not give us up. In wrath, remember mercy, we pray.
And lead us not into temptation. The roots of sin lie so deep within us, so we ask that you will help us to watch and pray. Help us to watch our lives, and when the inclination to sin rises within us, help us, by Your grace, to deal with it early and decisively. We need your Holy Spirit to do this so help us we pray.
Father, we thank You that You are the God of all grace. All of our hope is in You. In Your common grace, restrain the worst and promote the best in our community, our nation and in our world. Where we are tested, give us special grace that we may be able to carry the load. Where we have failed, restore us, O Lord, we pray. You are our light, so help us to turn again, and to rise up.
Save people even today, dear Lord, by Your grace and though Your Word. And hasten the day when our faith will be turned to sight. For Yours is the kingdom, and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
 JI Packer, I Want To Be A Christian, 171.
 Fanny J. Crosby (1820-1915), HYMN: “All the way my Savior leads me,” 1875.
 John Newton, HYMN: “Amazing Grace,” 1772.
© Colin S. Smith
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