The Lord’s Prayer – save us from temptation, and deliver us from evil

Matthew 8:23-27
Ephesians 6:10-20

Save me means very different things at different times. I’m sure the people trapped in Grenfell Tower meant save me in the same way that the disciples on the boat asked Jesus to save them. Yet, the language of saving, being saved, salvation, has wider contexts in church, where we link it to eternal life. Some people ask the question when were you saved, by which I think they mean when did you become a Christian. I always answer that question by saying AD33, because I believe being saved is something rather wider than just me and God. However, please note that we don’t actually pray, “Save me.” It’s, ”Save us.” As we’ve said all the way through the Lord’s Prayer, it’s communal, it’s not just me on my own, it’s us.

Save us from the time of trial, and deliver us from evil. Words like “save” and “trial” and “deliver” are words of crisis, reminding us that the temperature of the Lord’s Prayer is rising. Things are not right in the world. Far too often, people have sold faith as the answer to all your problems, yet we know that’s nonsense. What we’re praying is not for these things to go away, but for God to give us strength to find a way through them, a way to near them, and at times that will feel like a fight, a fight for which we need the whole armour of God.

Indeed, in those situations where we feel up against it, we’re not just up against something within us, but up against powers in the world beyond us. These powers are things like the economy, which seems to determine so much in our lives. Things like race and gender, which determine so much of what happens to us in life. Things like the media, which feed us images, facts, names, sights and sounds that determine our angle of vision.

Yet when we pray “save us from temptation, and deliver us from evil”, we’re joining in a battle for God, against these powers in the world. You know from your own experience that a lie becomes more violent once it’s stripped of its pretence and exposed as a lie. So when we pray this prayer, to be delivered from the test, we’re acknowledging that we are not in control, because God is in control. There really is something in the world worth resisting, this world and its rewards are not enough, and that we answer to some greater power than that which the world bows before.

So, we ask to be rescued in the time of trial, to be delivered from evil. Being a Christian is not about believing particular things, but rather it’s about being part of a people who have learned that they must pray because they are in such need of God. We don’t know what the future holds, but we do know who holds the future. Knowing that, we can find patience in the midst of struggle. The world lives by the story that our lives are rushing towards their conclusion, the oblivion of death and dissolution. We must, the worlds says, therefore frantically work to make every minute count, because the world tells us that nothing counts other than what we make. The world attempts to convince us that things are in a terrible mess and it is up to us to set things right or things will never be right. The world tells a story that all suffering, confusion, or pain must be resolved now through earnest human efforts, drugs, economic development, or medical technology, or else life is damned.

In praying this prayer, we are given something good to do in the midst of life. We’re refusing to let the powers rush us into despair or false hope, premature conclusions or frantic busy-ness. We’re not in a hurry to have things worked out, brought to completion, finished and done, because we know that, in Jesus, God has given the world all the time we need. Patience is a virtue in short supply in the modern world, because we are enmeshed in the powers, so we pray, “Deliver us from evi1.”

In praying to God to deliver us, we’re surely acknowledging that God is greater than any foe of God. The power of evil must be admitted and taken seriously, yet not too seriously. Evil is a threatening power, but an ultimately defeated power. When we pray for deliverance from evil, we acknowledge that we don’t have the resources, on our own, to resist evil. The Lord’s Prayer is so honest. The powers that be are powers over our lives. Alcoholics Anonymous says that “we need to reach out to a power greater than ourselves.”

Being part of the church, being in a community, is how we can best do that. The community enables us to be free from the powers. Standing alone, as isolated individuals, we are no match for the powers. Yet, as a church, we are the body of Christ, we are set free.

I’m going to end with some words that we sang this morning:

1 Nothing distress you,
nothing affright you,
everything passes,
God will abide.
Patient endeavour
accomplishes all things;
who God possesses
needs naught beside.

2 Lift your mind upward,
fair are his mansions,
nothing distress you,
cast fear away.
Follow Christ freely,
his love will light you,
nothing affright you,
in the dark way.

3 See the world’s glory!
Fading its splendour,
everything passes,
all is denied.
Look ever homeward
to the eternal;
faithful in promise
God will abide.

4 Love in due measure
measureless Goodness;
patient endeavour,
run to Love’s call!
Faith burning brightly
be your soul’s shelter;
who hopes, believing,
accomplishes all.

5 Hell may assail you,
it cannot move you;
sorrows may grieve you,
faith may be tried.
Though you have nothing,
he is your treasure:
who God possesses
needs naught beside.

Similar Posts