If Jesus Was Serious…Then We Will Admit Our Inability to Rescue Ourselves
by Skye Jethani
Jesus concludes His prayer, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” For those living with God—for those who have tasted His goodness—there will arise an unceasing desire for deliverance from sin and evil. The ultimate goal, however, is not simply the removal of sin from our lives. Too often, we forget that our God doesn’t merely deliver us from something. He also delivers us to something.
The writer of Hebrews tells us to fix our eyes on Jesus and put aside the sin that so easily entangles us (Heb. 12:1-2). Sin is like thorny brush that slows us from reaching and embracing our treasure. This fact is lost if we do not see the Lord’s Prayer as a single, developing thought. To be delivered from evil means being delivered into the unmediated presence of our heavenly Father. We want to overcome temptation because we are overjoyed with God. He is our treasure. Separating these two ideas does great damage to our life with God and our growth as His people.
When we pray, “Lead us not into temptation,” we are also admitting to God that we do not have the strength to rescue ourselves. We are saying, “Lead me because I cannot lead myself.” Ray Pritchard has said this part of the Lord’s Prayer is intended for pathetic losers, but we shouldn’t be discouraged, because that includes all of us. He writes, “Without God we don’t have a chance, we don’t have a thing to offer, and we don’t even know what to do next.”
In the Old Testament, there is another prayer that models this need for guidance. When a massive army came against King Jehoshaphat, he turned to God with this prayer:
“O, LORD, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you…O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” (2 Chron. 20:6, 12)
When you pray, begin your time with God by admitting your weakness and humbly asking for God’s guidance—not just to lead you away from sin, but into His presence.
Excerpted from What If Jesus Was Serious?: A Visual Guide to the Teachings of Jesus We Love to Ignore by Skye Jethani (Moody Publishers, June 2020).