Temptation and Prayer

Why does Jesus teach His disciples to pray like this? Because He knows that Satan prowls around, “like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Meanwhile, we are vulnerable to the enemy’s wiles, because “the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41) Indeed, in our flesh “nothing good dwells” (Romans 7:18). Jesus knows, too, that “the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations” (2 Peter 2:9). We can “be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might” (Ephesians 6:10) – but only in the Lord, not in ourselves. Thus, we pray for divine help. What does Jesus teach them to pray? That we may not be led into temptation, as He was in the wilderness. He has borne the fury of Satan’s attacks. He knows the subtle arguments which the devil uses to divert our eyes from God, disbeliever His Word, doubt His promises, and disobey His commands. How does He want us to pray these words? With alertness: “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation,” He warned His sleepy disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:41). When we are hungry, as He was in the desert; or tired, as His followers were in the Garden, then we must be especially alert. We need to be aware of our own particular, personal, weaknesses, and to pray with special fervor when these appear. More than that, we must stand guard at all times, “for the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16). No one enjoys immunity from Satan’s wiles, not even the most mature believer. “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12). Nor should we ask to be kept from temptation if we are rushing headlong into it! “Flee idolatry” “Flee fornication” warns the Apostle. Jesus Himself states the issue starkly: “If your right eye (or hand) causes you to sin, pluck it out (or cut it off) and cast if from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell” (Matthew 5:29-30). Oh, may we learn to pray as Jesus did, with bloody sweat, that the Lord’s will be done, and that we be delivered from temptation and sin!