THE LORD’S PRAYER CAN HELP YOU OVERCOME TEMPTATION
When you pray “Lead us not into temptation,” you are establishing a watchful attitude over your spiritual life. This is the same prayer Jesus gave to His disciples in the garden after He found them sleeping: “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41).
When you pray “Lead us not into temptation,” you are asking for deliverance from both a crisis and a process. In referring to temptation, Jesus used the word peirasmos, which implies that temptation is a process. This means, Don’t put me into a place of seduction where I wrestle with temptation every day.
When a football team beats its cross-town rival, it does not have to beat them every day to be the best team. They schedule one game a year, and the winner is the best team. So when we pray the Lord’s Prayer in the face of temptation, we are praying, “Don’t allow us to be continually tempted by a particular sin.”
Life itself is a process. When we gain victory over one sin, another temptation always seems to be waiting to trip us up. Therefore, praying “Lead me not into temptation” is an appeal for God to enable us to go “from victory to victory.” We are praying, “Lord, give me a victory today”; and tomorrow you will pray again, “Lord, give me a victory today.”
When you pray “Lead us not into temptation,” you are also asking for deliverance in a crisis. Perhaps you have never been tempted to steal. Suppose, though, you had the opportunity to walk away with a million dollars … no one would know … absolutely no one would know … positively no way of getting caught. All you have to do is say a simple yes. When you pray “Lead us not into temptation,” you are asking for deliverance from a massive crisis that would destroy your soul. You are asking for the courage to say no in a crisis.
When you pray “Lead us not into temptation,” you are like a night watchman who discovers a blazing inferno in the warehouse. He does not try to fight the fire himself, but runs to call the fire department to fight the fire. You also call for God’s help to face your own fires of temptation.
When you pray “Lead us not into temptation,” you might want to add, “Help me to run as fast as I can to get away from temptation.” For some reason, the word “lead” implies a slow walk. Because you have been there before, however, you know how dangerous tempting situations are. Paul told Timothy, “Flee these things” (1 Tim. 6:11). Obviously, the word “flee” means to dash, as a person would race away from a burning car before the fuel tank explodes.
When you pray “Lead us not into temptation,” you are claiming victory in the spirit of 1 Corinthians 10:13:
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
In praying the Lord’s Prayer, you are asking for God to lead you to a place where you can overcome temptation, just as He promised to do.
When you pray “Lead us not into temptation,” you recognize that if you boastfully think you can stand against temptation, you will fall. Paul warns the believer, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10:12).
When you pray “Lead us not into temptation,” you exercise the humility of self-distrust. You know that in yourself you can fall, so you ask God to lead you away from temptation so you won’t fall.
Because you don’t trust your mouth, you take precautions about what you say (see Rom. 3:13). Because you don’t trust your feet, you take precautions where you go, (see v. 15). Because you don’t trust your eyes, you take precautions what you see (see v. 18). Because you don’t trust your mind, you take precautions what you read (see v. 11). Because you don’t trust your heart, you take precautions with your desires (see Matt. 15:17–20; Jer. 17:9).
When you pray “Lead us not into temptation,” you are also asking God to keep you from the place of temptation. For the word “into” here, Jesus used the Greek preposition eis. We pray, “Don’t lead me into temptation.”
The Lord could have used many other prepositions. He could have used en, and the prayer would mean, “Don’t lead us in the very middle of temptation.” He could have used the preposition epi, which would mean, “Don’t lead us around the edge of temptation.” That would mean that we could come near to temptation, but walk around it.
The Lord could have used the preposition para, which would mean, “Don’t lead us around the outside of temptation.” This is illustrated by a person walking around a house. Or the Lord could have used the preposition dia, which would mean, “Don’t lead us through the middle of temptation.” That would be leading us into and out of temptation. However, the Lord said to pray, “Do not lead us eis temptation,” which means, “Lead us not into temptation’s influence, with its purpose of sin reaching or touching us.”
Elmer L. Towns, Praying the Lord’s Prayer for Spiritual Breakthrough (Ventura, CA: Regal; Gospel Light, 1997), 173–176.