In our study through the Lord’s Prayer we now come to the last part of the last request, which is “. . . deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:13). What are we being taught to pray here? What does it mean for us to ask our heavenly Father to “deliver us from evil”?
First (as always), we need to keep the context in view. This request is very closely-related to what precedes it. In the previous requests the Lord Jesus has just taught us to ask for forgiveness (v.12), and for grace to avoid temptation in the first place, so as to not keep on sinning in the same ways (v.13a); now he teaches us to ask for deliverance from evil (v.13b). There is a clear progression of thought in these verses.
Sometimes we set ourselves up by not avoiding the occasion to temptation and sin. We allow ourselves to go to places or spend time with certain people that we know full well will give us cause to stumble. And yet we often fail to avoid those things. Many times that is our first mistake, isn’t it? We’ve all been there at one time or another, no doubt. Have you ever heard the saying, “Bad company corrupts good morals”? (It is based on 1 Corinthians 15:33.) Is there a place or a person(s) that you know that you need to avoid for this reason? It is not without reason that we are taught to pray not to be led into temptation.
But sometimes there is just no getting around temptation. Have you ever been there? Have you ever found yourself staring temptation right in the face, even if through no fault of your own? What are you to do then? Here’s an idea: pray. It is right here toward the end of the Lord’s prayer. We must pray to be delivered from evil. The Westminster Shorter Catechism puts it this way:
“Q.106. What do we pray for in the sixth petition? A. In the sixth petition, which is, And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, we pray that God would either keep us from being tempted to sin, or support and deliver us when we are tempted.”
We need to pray for the Lord’s support and deliverance when we are tempted. We should not just think of “evil” as consisting in things such as suffering or even Satan himself (although it certainly includes those things), but also our own propensity and inclination toward sin. We are to “watch and pray” lest we enter into temptation (Mark 14:38), but when we do enter into temptation, we need to pray for God’s help and deliverance.
And none of us are sufficient for these things on our own. Which is why this request is in the first person plural (as are the others before it in v.11-13). We must pray that the Lord would deliver “us” (not just “me”) from evil. Do you pray for your brothers and sisters in the Lord this way? May the Lord’s prayer teach us to pray not just for ourselves, but others as well, to be delivered from evil.