And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. With these words, Jesus instructs us to pray that the testing of our faith would not tip over into temptation for us to fall into sin. Also, he directly teaches us to pray for protection from the evil one.
‘Test’ and ‘tempt’ are the same word in biblical Greek so it’s important to allow context to help us understand which is intended and what each means. ‘Tempting’ is a deliberate attempt to cause moral/spiritual failure; to cause to sin. ‘Testing’ is an attempt to prove the strength or validity of something. God does the second but never the first. In fact, according to James 1, we are ultimately responsible for leading ourselves into temptation. So, why does Jesus want us to pray this way?
First, he wants us to pray this way so that difficult situations in life, the kind of circumstances the Lord allows as tests of our faith, would not end in us leading ourselves into temptation and sin. Second, he knows that Satan, though ultimately defeated, is still surprisingly powerful and threatening to the Church and the world; we need the Lord’s protection. When Satan confronted Jesus, his clear intent was to tempt, to induce Jesus into moral/spiritual failure and sin. God allowed the temptation because in it, Jesus resisted Satan by relying on God’s Word and, ultimately, demonstrated the strength of his trust in His Heavenly Father. In short, God allowed this test because it proved the character and obedience of Jesus as the Son of God.
Jesus’ temptation by Satan leaves us three important lessons: 1. Evil and the evil one are real (we must be wary/careful as 1 Peter 5.8 indicates). 2. We are weaker than we think (if we were able, on our own, to withstand any spiritual assault, why would Jesus teach us to pray this way regularly?). 3. God’s power is greater still (God’s Word contains all we need to resist temptation and reap the benefit of any test the Lord allows us to undergo).