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.
For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
In a world that is increasingly divided, there are a few things most can agree on.
It doesn't take a belief in God or Judeo-Christian values to acknowledge that there are many things in our world that are wrong - bad - evil. In his prayer, Jesus invites us to acknowledge the existence of evil. More than that, he invites us to acknowledge our own susceptibility to it.
And don't let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one
Some Greek manuscripts ask for rescue for evil. Others ask for rescue from the "evil one." Whether someone acknowledges the evil one as a personality coordinating the reality of evil or whether one thinks of evil as a force at work around us, the reality of evil and its impact on us remains the same. Evil is there and it is pushing against us.
Perhaps it is pushing against us in a way that is leading us towards sin - living in ways that are long in line with the love of God. That's how we normally think of temptation. But the word here is the word for trial or testing. So perhaps the evil in our world is pushing against us in ways that are causing us suffering and pain - the loss of a loved one, mental illness, or being the victim of mistreatment. Perhaps the evil in our world is pushing from the inside out as we struggle with grudges, animosity, and resentment. This prayer Jesus invites us to pray acknowledges our frailty by calling out to God for deliverance from the press of evil in our lives - whether that press comes from outside or in. It takes seriously the truth that "we are not as strong as we think we are," as Rich Mullins once sang.
In this prayer, Jesus invites us to not take any of the common approaches to the reality of evil in our world. When faced with the reality of evil, many simply put their heads in the sand and ignore it - pretend it isn't really there. Others acknowledge it and then see it everywhere responding with either paranoia about it or by giving in to it. Finally, others become self-righteous about evil. They acknowledge it, but it is "out there" and they, in their righteousness, are unharmed by it. Instead of these three responses, Jesus invites us to see it and to face it with sensitivity and reliance on God to lead us to rescue. That rescue could come through being from the impact of evil. It could come through being given the strength to bear it. It could come through being led through it to the other side. Regardless of how that deliverance may come, in this prayer, we are acknowledging the presence of God with us in it and the confidence that he will not leave us alone in it.
In considering this idea of rescue from evil, I can't help but think that Jesus had Psalm 23 in mind. As you pray the prayer Jesus taught us this week, I'd like to invite you to also pray this prayer written a thousand years before Jesus and meet with God in the midst of whatever comes your way this week.
The Lord is my shepherd. I lack nothing.
He lets me rest in grassy meadows; he leads me to restful waters; he keeps me alive.
He guides me in proper paths for the sake of his good name.
Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no danger because you are with me.
Your rod and your staff—they protect me.
You set a table for me right in front of my enemies.
You bathe my head in oil; my cup is so full it spills over!
Yes, goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life,
and I will live in the Lord’s house as long as I live.