How to Pray (Part 5): “Lead Us Not Into Temptation”
This is the last of a five-part series on the Lord’s Prayer. Don’t miss the previous posts:
- “Our Father,”
- “Hallowed Be Your Name,”
- “Your Kingdom Come, Your Will Be Done,” and
- “Give Us Today Our Daily Bread” and “Forgive Us Our Sins”
Because I know that all of us, left to ourselves, will go astray, I find myself praying a lot, “Lead us not into temptation” (Matthew 6:13a ESV). I pray it for me, my kids, our staff, and our church, because lurking inside of us are corruptions that want to take over us and destroy us.
Scripture says that the natural man does not desire the things of God. Trusting God, loving each other, pursuing purity and truth—these things are foreign to the sons of Adam and daughters of Eve. Without the overcoming grace of God working inside of us, every one of us will choose to follow darkness rather than light.
This really came home to me recently: If you’d asked me five years ago who the most significant pastors in the U.S. were—and you limited it to guys that were about my age—I would have given a list of eight or so. Today, five of the eight are no longer in ministry.
These guys are not categorically different from me. Most were better preachers, more effective leaders. Paul Tripp points out that there are two leading factors in situations where pastors fall: (1) There is an absence of real community, and (2) they don’t take seriously the power of indwelling sin.
I need God’s grace to overcome my temptations and weaknesses, and I regularly ask my church to pray for me in this. My kids need God’s grace in this, and I pray daily for them. You need it, too.
God’s grace is our only hope.
Only God’s grace can deliver us from the temptations of our heart, especially since we have a literal Enemy who is scheming to attack us with those temptations in the specific places where he knows we are most vulnerable. But, God promises to make a way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13) if we ask him for it.
I’m a child of the 80s, back when video games were pure and simple (and awesome). Missiles would come down, and you would shoot them. Large monkeys would roll barrels at you, and you’d jump over them. But one of the best was Pac-Man, where you just eat little dots. Larger dots, of course, could let you eat the bad-guy ghosts. But my favorite part of the game wasn’t eating the ghosts. It was that moment when you were almost trapped, hemmed in by Blinky, Pinky, and Clyde. But there was an opening on the edge of the screen. These magical little portals transported you to the other side of the screen. So you’d duck through the portal and escape.
I’m not sure how many 80s video games prepared me to understand God’s promises, but this one did. In God’s promise, there is always a portal, no matter where you are or how overwhelmed you feel by temptation. We don’t have to be discouraged or scared of Satan. We can be more than overcomers through the promises of Jesus, who died to deliver us. The way out is there. We just have to ask him.
We don’t have to be discouraged or scared of Satan. We can be more than overcomers through the promises of Jesus, who died to deliver us.
If you don’t have a daily prayer time, I encourage you to start today, even if you start small. Here are a few suggestions that will help you either start a daily prayer time or jump-start it if you’ve gotten into a rut:
- Riff on the Lord’s Prayer (like you “riff” in jazz, where the musicians are doing their own thing around the skeleton of the melody). I start almost every morning prayer time this way—by going through the phrases of the Lord’s Prayer and praying what the Spirit brings to mind as I pray.
- Take a morning walk—with no devices—and pray out loud.
- Set reminders on your calendar to pray for specific needs at specific times.
- Use a prayer app like Echo Prayer, PrayerMate, or Evernote to help you organize and keep track of prayer needs. You can also use good, old-fashioned note cards.
- Pray in the moment with people (don’t just say you’ll pray for them).
- Prayer walk your neighborhood, the office, or some part of your city.
- Try two to three short times of prayer instead of one long one, like in the morning, after lunch, and before bed.
- Pray regularly with your kids. You can use a kids’ version of the ACTS (adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication) model of prayer: “Wow,” “Sorry,” “Thanks,” “Help.”
- Use a prayer companion in your daily time with God (one of my favorites is The Valley of Vision).
Above all, just start. Prayer is a muscle that grows as you use it. The more you do it, the more you know how to do it. And the more you know how to do it, the more you’ll want to.