In Scripture we find people asking God to direct their steps, to lead them in the right way, to protect them from the attacks of the enemy. These are good prayers. Perhaps if we prayed more prayers of guidance and protection from Satan, we’d have to pray less prayers of repentance. Jesus even guided us in this direction with our prayers. When training His disciples on how to pray, Christ said, “You should pray like this:
‘Our Father in heaven, Your name be honored as holy.
Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’” (Matthew 6:9-13)
We are breaking that prayer down in our devotionals this week.
Today we look at the fifth part of the prayer. “And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
Some paths are better than others. We read this as temptation to sin, but it basically refers to the idea of not leading us into times of great proof and struggle. God does not tempt us with sin. But He does test us. And in that testing there is ample opportunity for success and failure. The success is wonderful, but the failure that can come through testing is brutal. It is alright to ask God to be gentle with us and lead us through a path that has less opportunity for failure. Often time a new Christian will have a feeling of invincibility. They will feel ready to take on the whole army of Hell, even before they begin a spiritual walk with Bible-reading, prayer, mentoring, fellowship, and service. If we ask God to take us right into the middle of the enemy camp, He likely will. Then we find out why God calls us sheep and not wolves.
God already knows where He wants to take us in life. There are multiple paths to get us there. Sometimes we make missteps and He has to take us the hard way to get back where we should be. The Christian life was never meant to be a cake walk. This is a difficult journey. But God is our Father, not just our King. He is willing to do whatever it takes to purge the impurities out of our life. But He is also willing to hear us in our humanity. Not too many people are called to take their only son up a mountain and sacrifice him. That makes for a great story, but a hard morning. Everyone wants the faithfulness of Job, but who wants to be turned over to the hands of Satan to prove that faithfulness? In our prayers, we have the opportunity to ask God to lead us along a more peaceful path. King David, a man after God’s own heart himself wrote, “Do not let my heart turn to any evil thing or perform wicked acts with men who commit sin. Do not let me feast on their delicacies.” (Psalm 141:4) God will respond to our prayers for guidance. He won’t take you to Heaven through Candyland, but He may honor your request to miss certain parts of Hell on your journey.
There is future deliverance. We have an enemy. This journey is not just a stroll, but the advancement of a battle. We aren’t picking daisies on our way to paradise. We are engaged in constant fighting over the souls of men and women who are about to face eternity. And there is a spiritual toll that goes along with the walking war. What if there were a way to avoid falling, and what if there were a way we could be swept up if we did fall? Well, we can, and there is. We can seek God for future deliverance. We don’t see all of the places the Devil is waiting to ambush us, but God does. We don’t always know how to get out of a snare into which we have stepped, but God can bring us out. This deliverance is both preemptive and powerful.
I wonder how many times we get into an unnecessary jam with Satan simply because we didn’t ask for God’s guidance around the land mines, or because we didn’t ask in advance for God to quickly step into future trouble. Perhaps we just assume that God will be there to deliver without our request. Perhaps He will. But if I make the request for guidance and deliverance part of my prayer life, I learn to count on God and not just take Him for granted. It is one thing to expect the fire department to put out a fire in your house. It is another thing to ask them to inspect your building and advise you on ways to avoid the fire in the first place.
God is leading your life. He has a plan and a path. There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking God for a better, safer, clearer path. Sometimes we take the hard way of God because we are enamored with the hard way. There is something god that happens in the hard journey. But we don’t get any bonus points for walking the long way when God would have been just as happy to take us the more direct route.
Today, pray that God brings you to the place you want to be. And feel free to ask Him to do that with as little trouble as possible. I’m not telling you to do that… Jesus did.
[Bible quotes are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, unless otherwise noted.]
Find more of David’s work at Heart Of Ministry.