In probably the best known prayer, the one Jesus taught us to pray, there is a line I have breezed past way too many times without thinking more about it. It says, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13).
This prayer is addressed to our Heavenly Father, the One Who is all-loving and all-powerful. God loves us and He gives us His power. Even power to defeat temptation.
Sometimes we have to battle the same temptation again and again and again. Perhaps we have seen that we are overcoming that temptation more times than we’re being overcome by it; perhaps not. Sometimes it’s a totally new temptation that sneaks up on us each time. In either case, God knows what temptation we are going to face.
This line of prayer is really saying, “God, please don’t bring me into battle with a temptation I’m not ready to face. Help me to be ready to overcome that temptation when it comes” (see 1 Corinthians 10:13; James 1:13-17).
NEWS FLASH—Instead of waiting to pray for help until I’m facing a temptation (a reactive prayer), I can pray for God’s help before I even face the temptation (a proactive prayer).
In my mind, proactive is way better than reactive!
Check out what John Bunyan learned about this—
“…I did not, when I was delivered from the temptation that went before, still pray to God to keep me from the temptations that were to come; for though, as I can say in truth, my soul was much in prayer before this trial seized me, yet then I prayed only, or at the most principally, for the removal of present troubles, and for fresh discoveries of His love in Christ, which I saw afterwards was not enough to do; I also should have prayed that the great God would keep me from the evil that was to come. …This I had not done, and therefore was thus suffered to sin and fall, according to what is written, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. And truly this very thing is to this day of such weight and awe upon me, that I dare not, when I come before the Lord, go of my knees, until I entreat Him for help and mercy against the temptations that are to come; and I do beseech thee, reader, that thou learn to beware of my negligence, by the afflictions, that for this thing I did for days, and months, and years, with sorrow undergo.”
What would happen if the next time you are facing a temptation you could say, “Hello, temptation! I’ve already prayed about you, and my Heavenly Father has already given me strength to defeat you”? Don’t you think you would be much more successful? I do!