Our Father in heaven, may your name be honored. May your Kingdom come and your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us the bread we need for today. Forgive our wrongs as we forgive the wrongs of others. Keep us from temptation and protect us from evil. For yours is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
From Eyewitness: The Life of Christ Told in One Story
People are tempted when their desires take them in a direction different from where God would have them go. — James 1:14
Is it true? God might lead us into temptation? Many would say that’s impossible. Doesn’t he work to protect us from evil? Surely, he would never lead us into it. But if God would never lead us into temptation, what need is there to pray that he won’t?
I must be missing something here.
Consider God’s behavior when he told Adam and Eve never to eat of one tree in the Garden (Genesis 2:17). With all the other fruit trees, they had no incentive to eat of this one. Why did God allow them to sin? He didn’t have to plant the tree, but he did. He could have built an impenetrable barrier around the tree, but he didn’t. He could have prevented the serpent from showing Eve a benefit in eating the forbidden fruit. Why didn’t God do any of those things? Evidently, the temptation had an essential purpose.
Why does God allow temptation?
Jesus said to Peter, “Satan has asked to test you as a farmer sifts the good grain from the chaff” (Luke 22:31–32). Why didn’t Jesus say no, commanding Satan to leave Peter alone? He must have had a reason.
As one prophet said, God’s ways are far above my ability to understand (Isaiah 55:9). I may not understand his actions, or the lack of them, but I am certain of one thing: anything God does or doesn’t do is for good. He could stop the evil, but as Joseph once said, he allows it for good (Genesis 50:20).
I’m not sure if this information helps much.
It raises another question. If God wants to lead me into temptation, why should I object to an essential, good result? I’d love to hear what you think about that.
I believe Jesus is teaching an attitude of prayer in the one area of my life that God cannot control. That is, my desire. But for my desire to change from evil to good, I still need God’s help.
Thus, praying for God’s help in avoiding temptation is expressing a desire for my desire to become what he wants.