Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
God does not lead anyone into temptation, as we would understand this to mean.
James 1:13-15 says, “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.”
The Greek words mean, “Don’t lead us into trouble”. In a sense, we are asking God to protect us from trouble, especially unnecessary trouble.
However, God will lead us into testing, as mentioned in Matthew 4:1 and James 1:2-3:
“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.”
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”
God will not lead you where His grace cannot sustain you. But many of our temptations come from following God’s leadership.
Many of our temptations come from our lack of awareness of God’s presence in our life. As I taught this as a youth pastor, I noticed that people had pretty much dropped the request for God to not lead us into temptation but to deliver us from evil. I added to my prayers, hoping that God would honor it. Here is what I observed.
When I live with the recognition of Christ in my life, I am tempted way less than I am otherwise. When I live moment by moment in disregard of Christ in my life, I am inundated with temptation.
I believe the key word in this phrase is “LEAD”. When I follow God’s leading, moment by moment, temptations are weak and powerless against me. When I am focused on communing with Him throughout the day, opportunities to serve Him pop up and opportunities to stray diminish.
This followship of His leading in my life, is the key to this verse for me. You cannot pray for God to not lead you into temptation and deliver you for evil, and then get up and ignore Him the rest of the day, expecting Him to honor that prayer. That prayer must be for Him to lead us every step of the way and for us to consciously follow His leading.
We should pray, “Lord, lead, and help me follow. I stay out of trouble that way and find only opportunities for victory in my testings.”