Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say:
“Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread,
and forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.”
(Luke 11:1-4 ESV)
Notice that Jesus’ instruction on prayer does not end with “lead us not into sin” but instead “lead us not into temptation.” You may wonder, what’s the difference?
Many times we like to approach sin as an imaginary line. As long as we stay on the right side of the line we’re OK. But, as soon as we cross to the wrong side of the line we’re sinning. The result of this mentality is that we often attempt to get as close to this imaginary line as possible without crossing or sinning. Most of us eventually learn that if we keep walking up to the edge of this line, we’ll eventually cross it.
The motivation of this prayer isn’t merely trying not to cross an imaginary line, or avoiding sin, but avoiding anything that would draw us away from pursuing God. In other words the motivation in avoiding temptation is to have one’s heart, mind, and entire life fully focused on living for God. As the Apostle Paul challenged the young man Timothy, whom he was mentoring: “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22).
In what specific ways can you ask God to enable you to avoid temptation, so that you can better pursue Him?