“And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.” (NRSV)
In December 2017, Pope Francis asked the Catholic Church to change the words of The Lord’s Prayer from ‘Do not submit to temptation’, to ‘Do not let us enter into temptation.’ I heard this on the NPR radio station, and it moved me to ponder.
We know that God does not lead us into temptation; God is there to help lead us out of temptation and away from temptation. God doesn’t ‘lure’ us into harmful situations. “No one who is tested should say, “God is tempting me!” This is because God is not tempted by any form of evil, nor does he tempt anyone.” (James 1:13, CEB)
When Matthew 6:13 was written, the Jewish apocalyptic writings warned that a period of persecution would tempt people to turn away from their faith before the end times. “It is to be delivered from this situation and from the power of the ‘evil One’ that Jesus tells the disciple to pray.”
Pope Francis is looking at temptation through today’s lens to help the Catholic Church understand the nature of God as a helper and guide, rather than ‘tempter’. God is there to guide us away from harmful situations and decisions when we ask for help.
When we at Napa Methodist say the Lord’s Prayer in worship with the words, “lead us not into temptation”, I wonder what it must sound like to a visitor who doesn’t know much about the Christian faith or is curious about who this ‘Jesus’ is? If someone is exploring a journey of faith to follow the ways of Jesus, does it sound confusing? I wonder what would happen if Napa Methodist considered praying “And lead us away from temptation and deliver us from evil”?
We might get a little tongue-tangled and perhaps want to stay comfortable with what we’ve always done. But perhaps we might want to contemplate trying it out on a Sunday morning? Just wondering…
Prayer: Lord, help us to look to you for help when we are tempted. Thank you for leading us away from temptation and for saving us from the evil one. Amen
Submitted by JoAnne (Jo) Neish
Scripture quotations except as noted are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.