we continue our reflection on the "Our Father" the prayer Jesus gives the disciples at their request, "Lord, teach us how to pray."
Over the past few Sundays we have reflected on this prayer a bit.
We looked at the context in which the prayer is given in the gospel, both in Matthew and Luke. We also asked the question, why do we pray and what is the purpose of prayer only to discover that prayer isn't about changing the circumstances around us as much as it is about changing or transforming the one who prays.
We noted that the Prayer can be broken in to five bare essentials when it comes to prayer:
Adoration, Surrender, knocking/kneading (seeking what God gives and working it so that it can become food for us and others), forgiveness, asking God to escort us through life.
This week I would like to reflect on the last part of the prayer, "Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from Evil..."
In order to mature and to make real progress we need adversity. We need to be tried. Trials help us discover who we are and whose we are. Just like grapes need to be fermented in order for the gladness of wine to be tasted upon our lips so we need purification and transformation.
God will try us but never tempt us. This part of prayer reminds us of that important distinction.
When we are tried we are more intimately united to Christ himself who was sent into the desert to be tested. God allows us to be tried perhaps to dampen our pride so that we don't form too high opinion of ourselves and keep us readily disposed to reach forth for God's grace.
When we pray "deliver us from evil..." we are essential invoking the need for redemption for God to rescue, redeem, and to free us.
The whole of salvation history is caught up in the last petition that connects back to the first three uniting us to God's kingdom.
We return full circle.
Evils are necessary for purification and transformation. They reek havoc in our life but they lead us forth to maturity.
It is Evil singular that we ask God to deliver us. Evil singular is that which can destroy. We ask God to keep us focused so that in our concern for goods we do not lose sight of God.
This is what the first petition of the prayer is about. we are asked to prioritize with the Father at the center of our life and love.
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil...