Pray for daily bread, daily pardon and daily protection; not only for
yourself, but for all God's children.

Do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
                                              Matthew 6:13 NKJV

Our Father in heaven,
        may your name be kept holy.
May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth,
        as it is in heaven.
Give us today the food we need,
and forgive us our sins,
        as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
And don't let us yield to temptation,
        but rescue us from the evil one.
                                                   --New Living Translation


And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Let me not go carelessly this day within the reach of any evil I cannot resist,
        but if in the path of duty I must go where temptation is,
        give me strength of spirit to meet it without fear.
                                                   --Walter Bowie


God never tempts anyone to sin,
But the devil, world, self would have us give in
To pride, false belief, and sins like despair,
So we ask God to keep us from such in this prayer.
And though we have trials and are tempted to sin,
We pray that by God's grace, final victory we'd win.
                                                   --Martin Luther

                             Lead Us and Save Us

I was with a tour group once and at dinner time the bus stopped at
a place called Temptation Restaurant. We all laughed and walked
right in, fully anticipating a tempting meal. It was the perfect
snapshot of how we often react in everyday situations. Although
Jesus holds up a stop sign, we merrily plunge right in, eager to
enjoy the enticements at the temptation buffet.

No one is exempt. We have all been there, so no one is in a position
to feel superior to anyone else. It is likely we have all committed
murder in our minds and lusted in our hearts, gained unfair
possession of something not rightfully ours, assassinated the
character of an unsuspecting person, betrayed a trusting soul,
succumbed to bad attitudes, and over-dosed on anything from work,
to revenge, to pornography, to food, to self-righteousness, to drugs.

But the marvel of it all, is that Jesus has met us where we are,
and planted a vision of heaven in our heads. The realities of the
preceding paragraph are not the complete picture. We have a
loving Father in heaven who watches over us, waiting for us to look
that way so he can lead us in another direction and deliver us from
the many evils around us.

Not only does our Father in heaven want to be a part of our lives, he
wants the #1 spot. God wants to be our first thought in the morning,
the last prayer at night, and be welcome at all times in between!
Yet God is no tyrant, and never forces himself on anyone. The One
who captivates us with unconditional love sets us free to live with joy
and pick up the mantle of mercy and grace in order to share it with
others. God's desire is to draw us in and pump us up, adding
strength upon strength. But it all hinges upon our willingness to
come in simple trust like a child and give God the place of highest
honor in our mind and heart.

Evil is a strong adversary. Temptations pull us away from our
Father's house and send us off in many directions. We want to do
right, yet look for short-cuts and fail to follow through. We say no
when we really mean yes. We try to resist but give in. We're going
one way while looking the other. We sacrifice long-term goals for
short-term pleasures. In daily choices, in great decisions, we feel
the pull from conflicting emotional needs. So Jesus taught us to
pray and remember that our heavenly Father never leaves us
alone in our struggle.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed the "Lead me not"
prayer using different words. In pleading desperation he cried out,
"Take this cup from me!" His Father didn't deliver him from the evil
that lay ahead, but led him through it. Past the temptations to fear
and tremble, complain and make excuses, lose hope, quit and
forget that he ever had a Father in heaven. When his ordeal on
the cross was complete, Jesus claimed the ultimate victory he
had secured for us all.

Our Lord was tempted; so are we. When faced with temptation
the question is, to whom do we belong? Jesus knew to whom he
belonged, do we? Will we be guided by a loving God who looks out
for the best interests of the whole, or declare our right to do what
we please?

If we had no traffic lights or directional signs on our highways there
would be many wrecks and much unnecessary suffering. The
same thing happens in our lives when we prefer to go our own
selfish way and fail to heed the constraints of our wise and
compassionate Father in heaven.

"Lead us not into temptation" expresses the desire of the soul to
find unity and peace. We do not want to be pulled apart and
conflicted. As we draw close to our Leader we will have less
desire to stray. So we stay close and trust our days to the One
who sees the road ahead much more clearly than we do. And yes,
we can, through the strength of Jesus Christ within us.


Use the following questions for small groups, journaling, further
study or reflection.


Icebreaker: Name one thing you always wanted to do but never got it done.


Evil is opposite of God, heaven and goodness, like darkness compared to light.
            Do you think the difference between good and evil is as clear as that?
            If not, where do the lines blur?
How come when we do something it seems OK, but when someone else 
does the same thing we know it is wrong?


"Let me just get my toe wet; I won't get in too deep."
            What are some other ways of expressing this same thought?
            What is your response to this type of comment?


"Lead us not into temptation" presupposes we have already decided
to follow the ways of our Father in heaven, and that we do not wish to
sin against God or each other. It expresses the purity of our intent.
            Why, then, is it so hard to resist temptation?
            Are we asking to be saved "from evil" or "from doing evil"?
            How would we ever know if we were delivered from evil?


Give an example of going one way but looking another.
            What's the problem with that concept?
Soren Kierkegaard wrote that purity of heart is to will one thing.
            Is it difficult for you to zero in on the one thing?   If so, why?
Mediate on or discuss the implications of the beatitude, "Blessed are
the pure in heart, for they will see God."


"So much, O God, I have received, let me receive as from Thy hand
the gift of this new day and affirm now Thy power to make of it something
worthy to be offered to Thee at eventide." --Leslie Weatherhead
            How would a prayer like that be helpful when facing daily temptations?


If from a broader viewpoint you prayed for the world to be free from temptation
and evil, what specific words and thoughts would come to your mind?
             Write a brief, inclusive prayer from that perspective.


When we pray the Lord's Prayer, it seems we are praying for the impossible.
No life is free of temptation. Some relationships are not harmonious no
matter how hard we try. Not everyone receives the daily bread they need.
God's reign and will are so diffuse we don't know for sure what or where
it is. We can't make people honor God's name. And we fail to live like
family on earth.
            So why did Jesus teach his disciples to pray this prayer?

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