This week Pope Francis announced a proposed change to the wording of the Lord’s Prayer. Here’s why I feel strongly the prayer Jesus taught us MUST NOT be changed in any way.
The words in question are “Lead us not into temptation”. These words have always meant this to me:
“Lord you know how weak I am and you know which way I should go. Lead me away from temptation so that I do not fall.”
Jesus told His apostles on the night before He died:
“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41
Jesus gave us the prayer “Our Father” also known as the “Lord’s Prayer” to teach us how to pray.
When we pray “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” we are acknowledging God’s power over our lives. We surrender our lives to God so that He can lead us on the path of righteousness, away from sources of temptation that can cause us to sin.
When we pray “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”, we are praying that God leads us ‘OFF’ paths that could cause us to be tempted to sin. The Lord leads us NOT onto the path of temptation, for He destroys the power of evil to tempt us to sin.
The Pope is suggesting we replace the words “Lead us not into temptation” with “do not let us fall into temptation”, however what is missing in the new wording is the recognition that God is ‘leading us’ and guiding us to find the right path.
‘Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil’ is a prayer to ask God in His omnipotence to help us to choose paths where we will not fall into a temptation that will cause us to sin.
The reality is the world in which we live is full of temptation. Only God can help us to choose paths that do not result in temptation and sin.
The Words “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” is a reverent prayer where we humble ourselves to request God’s guidance and leadership and power over the choices we make and the paths we choose. We are praying that He lead us away from temptation and deliver us from the power of the evil one to seduce us and cause us to sin.
God is not going to remove sources of temptation from the world, but He will and He can destroy their power over us.
Recall that in the Garden of Eden God placed the forbidden Tree of Good and Evil.
“And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” Genesis 2:16-17
God did not tempt Adam and Eve to eat of the tree. It was the Devil/Satan that caused Eve to consider eating of the forbidden tree and ultimately Eve fell at the temptation caused by the Devil.
“Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil” is a prayer requesting God’s omnipotence to lead us AWAY from forbidden temptation that will cause our spiritual death.
Words in the Scripture are very important and they can sometimes be misunderstood.
When we pray to God we must begin with an understanding of His Holiness and Infinite Goodness. God would never tempt us to sin; temptation is Satan’s domain.
“When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” James 1:13-15
However although God does not tempt us, God can will for us to enter into a confrontation with evil if He wants to conquer evil through us.
Recall what happened after the Baptism of Jesus.
“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread. Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:1-4
I believe the Words Jesus gave us in the Lord’s prayer come from the ‘mouth of God’ and as such must NOT be altered. Taking away the words “Lead us” removes a critical phrase where we are asking God to GUIDE US and to help us to choose a path of righteousness that will not cause us to fall into temptation.
God led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted to show us the holiness of Jesus. It also shows us the tactics the Devil uses to seduce us. He will prey on our hunger and desire for various forms of gratification including money and power.
Satan offered Jesus worldly power, trying to seduce Jesus to serve Him.
“Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.” “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the LORD your God and serve only him.’ ” Matthew 4: 8-10
“Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” acknowledges the omniscience of God. God is all-knowing/omniscient and we are not. God sees into the future knowing where, when and how the Devil might choose to tempt us and by praying ‘Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil’ we are praying for God to steer us away from the places where we will encounter Satan’s diabolical temptations.
Temptation can be thought of as a ‘confrontation with Satan’. When the Holy Spirit guided Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan it was to show us the power of God to conquer evil.
When God called David to fight Goliath, David entered into a confrontation with evil. David won this confrontation with only a ‘sling shot’. He wasn’t afraid to go to battle for he knew God was with Him.
If God calls us into a confrontation with evil, then we must go forward knowing that God is with us. We must continue to fight all forms of injustice praying that God continues to “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”.
Discerning the Holy Will of God is the work of every believer. In humility we acknowledge our fragile human nature and take Our Lord’s powerful hand for He will lead us onto safe pathways, away from temptation, delivering us from the power of Satan.
I want to share with you something I have been doing for more than a decade that never ceases to destroy the power of temptation in my life.
Every day I stop and take a special walk with Jesus. Every day, I go with Jesus to Calvary, the place where Jesus was crucified for me and for you and for all who will believe in Him. As I meditate daily on the Passion of Christ I enter into a memory that never ceases to change my heart and my mind. I see in my contemplation our Holy Lord being crucified with tears in His eyes and with determination in His heart and with a love so powerful, so unconditional, so endless that I fall in love with Him over and over and over again. I give Jesus my life every day in a surrender that will never cease.
I feel so strongly that at this moment in history what we need to do as the Church of Jesus Christ is to unite in a prayer for the conversion of all souls.
For the past several years I have been petitioning the Vatican for assistance in promoting the Christian peace movement A Peaceful Revolution in the Name of Jesus Christ.
I have a dream of the Christian world uniting in prayer and remembrance of the Passion of Christ every day at the Time Our Lord Jesus died for us, 3pm (in our local time zones) as we remember how much Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ suffered to conquer the power of sin and to open the gates of Paradise to us.
Let’s not argue over the Words of the Lord’s Prayer. The Prayer Jesus taught us is perfect! Let’s focus on loving God and one another and in this way we will live the Lord’s Prayer and our lives will become a ‘living prayer’.
Learn more about the historic Christian peace movement that is uniting the Christian world. It’s called A Peaceful Revolution in the Name of Jesus Christ.