And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil
Matthew 6:13a (KJV)
Dear God, before I get into this verse, I want to talk a little about my experience at church this morning. In fact, I might end up spending all of my time on this and the verse can wait until tomorrow.
Although I am not Catholic, I attend Catholic mass with my wife. Once or twice a month she is the canter, so she leads in the songs and the psalm. When she does this, I sit in the pew right in front of where she stands so that we can sit with each other when she is not up front. The way the church is laid out, and being a Catholic Church, there is a practically life-sized crucifix right in front of that pew. From my seat, I can literally reach out and touch Jesus’s feet if I want. Normally, I will look up at Jesus during the service. Or during the “Gloria” song I will look at the painting at the top of the church that shows Jesus on his heavenly throne. It is always an interesting juxtaposition to see the crucified Jesus in the foreground and the exalted Jesus in the background. I like the imagery of it.
Today, however, was different. I couldn’t bring myself to look up. I just looked at his feet, with the spike through them and blood tastefully painted on them (nothing too gory). For whatever reason, I didn’t want to approach Jesus with any feelings of equality today. I wanted to be there as if I were really in Jesus’s presence. How would I react if that were really Jesus? How would I act if Jesus was standing in front of me? My answer was that I wouldn’t be able to look up. My eyes would probably only be able to look at his feet—his bloody, hole-filled feet. So during the service I only looked at his feet, and when I knelt on the kneeler to pray, I was literally on my knees at the foot of the cross. The prayers I offered to you seemed to take on a new meaning today. I don’t know that I’ll ever look at praying and worshipping from that particular seat in the same way again.
So now, as I come to you and ask that you lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil, how serious am I about that prayer? Am I thinking of it as kind of an abstract request that isn’t realistic, or am I at the foot of your cross, looking only at your feet—the feet of your son whom you sacrificed—asking for mercy as I make my way through life? What do I do to keep myself out of temptations way? Do I make your job impossible? And when I have evil being done around me or to me, either passively or aggressively, is my prayer truly that you would be my protector, or do I take it upon myself to avenge the wrongs done around me?
Father, as I pray to you right now, I am doing I my best to put myself literally at the foot of your cross. I am asking that you truly keep me from temptation. Open my eyes to it. Open my eyes to my own foolishness. And the only evil I feel I have a right to ask that you keep me from is the evil that Satan wants to do to my soul. All other evils done around me or to me might just be part of your kingdom coming and your will being done on earth as they are in heaven. So take my life, Lord, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to thee.
In Jesus’s name I pray,