Once We Pray This, Our Part Is to Stay Away from It
When Jesus’s disciples ask him how to pray, he gives a concise example to follow. One of the phrases in this short prayer is to deliver us from evil.
We commonly call this prayer from Jesus the Lord’s Prayer (or the Our Father, based on the opening line; Matthew 6:9-13) but a better label would be the Disciples’ Prayer. It is, after all, the prayer Jesus gave to his followers.
Some version of the Bible say, “the evil one,” but the most common rendering is more inclusive and simply says “evil.”
From this we see that Jesus advises us to pray that God will keep us from the evil in the world around us. This is the physical evil that confronts us from other people. It also refers to the evil one, which is Satan, along with his minions. This reflects supernatural evil (1 John 5:19).
We need to guard against both. The prayer Jesus gives his disciples addresses worldly evil and supernatural evil.
Consider the verb deliver. The action word of deliver is also the most common. To expand our understanding, we can consider other versions of the Bible. Some translations use rescue, keep, save, and protect.
All these verbs reflect our desire for God to shield us from evil and hold it at a distance.
Deliver Us from Evil
Depending on our faith practices and traditions, we may say this prayer that Jesus gave us each day, recite it in unison at church services, or use it as a model to inform our own prayers. Or we may largely ignore it.
Regardless, we all share a desire that God will deliver us from evil.
Yet do we cooperate with God in our prayer that he will deliver us from evil? Think about it. Do we live a life close to evil or do we pursue a lifestyle of holiness that keeps evil far away?
We should consider the movies and TV shows we watch and the music we listen to. There are also the people we hang out with and the places we go. These can all serve to soften our view on evil and condition us to accept it.
Alternately these can encourage us to recognize evil influences in our world and to stay away from them. Though we shouldn’t isolate ourselves, we must take care that we influence the world for God, and not let it influence us to dishonor him.
We should also look at our priorities. These reflect our heart and our devotion. Some might call these our idols. Our priorities—our idols—may include our job, accumulating money, and our hobbies and pastimes.
Though well meaning, we can even elevate family to an unhealthy level that opens us to compromising in other areas of our life. This makes us susceptible to evil.
When We Pray
We’re wise to ask God to deliver us from evil. And we can have confidence that he will. Yet we’re also wise to align our attitudes and actions with this request, to do our part to stay away from evil in the first place.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.