“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” (Matthew 6:13 NIV)
The writer Sam Levenson once said: “Lead us not into temptation. Just tell us where it is; we’ll find it.”
That about sums it up, doesn’t it?
Like moths to a flame, so are we to temptation. We are intrigued by it and sneak right up to the line, oblivious (or pretending to be so) to the fact that proximity to temptation only increases the likelihood that we will fall into it.
Have you ever thought about the phrase, “falling into temptation?” Even within that common way of referring to it, we see temptation as a hole, a pit perhaps, that we can fall into. This implies that we can injure ourselves on the way down and that we will most likely need help getting out of it.
This must be why Jesus taught us to pray that we would be lead away from temptation.
Paul instructed Timothy this way:
“Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” (2 Timothy 2:22 NIV)
Paul doesn’t tell Timothy to fight temptation, but to flee it. In fact, rather than concentrating on fighting temptation, Paul advises to direct your energies to pursue the things of God instead.
Here’s a prayer from the Book of Common Prayer that I conclude my morning prayers with just about daily. I invite you to pray it today, and encourage you to make it a daily morning prayer this week.
Prayer: Lord God, Almighty and Everlasting Father, you have brought us in safety to this new day. Now preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into temptation nor be overcome by adversity. And in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.