This is the final part in my series on Jesus' prayer in Matthew 6 (a.k.a., "The Lord's Prayer").
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As Jesus wraps up his iconic prayer in Matthew 6, the last thing he says is this:
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13).
The final word of Jesus’ prayer—how Jesus advises his followers to pray—has to do with being led and delivered.
It seems that this is where Jesus’ prayer has been headed all along. Each of us is on a path, and that path could lead toward something dark and destruction (“temptation”/”the evil one”), or it could lead toward some kind of deliverance.
If you track back through all of the phrases in this prayer, you will find this kind of trajectory: Jesus prays that 1) God’s reputation would be beloved, 2) the reality of this beloved God would collide with our world, 3) that we—all people—would have our daily needs met, and 4) that people would be reconciled with one another. And what happens if all of these things come to pass? We will find ourselves on a better kind of path—the kind of path that leads to deliverance and resurrection.
Every day, in a thousand different ways, we make choices that inform our paths. When I choose to be generous or kind or hopeful, I am choosing a path. Likewise, when I choose to be entitled, childish, self-centered, or greedy, I am choosing a different path.
Jesus’ prayer acknowledges that we are all on a path. There is the path that we were created to travel—the path that leads to life and joy and love and hope. And then there is another path that leads to something darker and more destructive.
One path is full of life, and the other path is littered with death.
So Jesus invites us to pray that we would find the better path. We are invited to choose a path in which we (in the words of the apostle Paul) “overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).
So may our prayers hone our desires to find our true paths.
May we overcome evil with good.