Written by Debbie Yamamoto
“…but deliver us from evil” –Matthew 6:13
In Luther’s Small Catechism, Martin Luther describes this petition from the Lord’s Prayer as “a summary petition in which we ask our Father in heaven to rescue us from the devil and all evil which has come into the world because of sin. In a world ruined by sin, the Lord keeps us from harm and helps us to endure the troubles that He allows to come into our lives.” Paul paints a more militant picture in his letter to the Ephesians when he writes to “Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:10-12).
In the modern Christian church, our experience with ‘spiritual warfare prayer’ probably encompasses quite a wide spectrum. While we all agree that sin and the devil exist, this petition from the Lord’s Prayer may be the closest some of us ever get to “speaking” with God about that evil in prayer. Paul’s references to the spiritual realm may make some uncomfortable, but if you’ve ever had to cry out to the Lord in prayer about a broken relationship, a family member who has walked away from the Lord, a child or loved one struggling with anxiety, depression, or mental health issues, or a friend or relative helplessly caught up in addiction, you intimately understand the reality of Paul’s words. We “fight” out of love. Moved by compassion, just like Jesus often was in the Gospels, we learn to work with God in our prayer life.
So in a broken and chaotic world struggling with a pandemic…where there are countries dealing with starvation and death due to inequalities in access to food and healthcare…and where there are cities witnessing record amounts of gun violence and unrest, where do we begin? Thankfully, we have been blessed with a Teacher residing inside each one of us in the form of the Holy Spirit. While we may feel inadequate, God’s power and authority are invincible. Paul encourages us to “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power…” We tap into that power by studying God’s Word, drawing near to Him, and following His lead in prayer. Spend time with Jesus, and He will teach us to stand firm.
Dear Lord, thank You for dwelling among us. Just like Joshua and the Israelites, go before us and with us into each new day. As we come to You earnestly seeking, quiet our hearts and teach us to pray. We desire more of Your Kingdom here. We praise You for Your victory and Your faithfulness. Amen.