Lead us not into temptation / the time of trial, but deliver us from evil

These two lines in the Lord’s Prayer are ones we maybe should reflect on rather more, but they take a bit more understanding.

Temptation here does not mean, “Don’t leave the chocolate too close” or “help me avoid addictive behaviours” – It means “Do not bring me to a time of trial / persecution”. The early Christians lived with periods of persecution, as do Christians in various countries today. ”Deliver us from evil” has a rather similar meaning – keep us free from / safe from the wicked powerful people who could destroy our lives and livelihoods.

As we pray for God’s Kingdom to come, so we also pray that we are not caught up in the opposite. Persecution and suffering are not unique to Christians. Sadly there is ethnic persecution, and in various countries different faith groups are persecuted.

Rohingya Muslims pushed out of Burma; Uighur people (mostly Muslim) put into camps in China. But we may not be aware in how many countries Christian minorities are suffering. In China, in Iran, across the Middle East, and in North Africa Christians are persecuted. The once-thriving Christian communities in countries like Syria and Iraq are now just small pockets – so many have fled to find safety and new lives, or have died in conflict.

If we stand up for justice, whether in a local employment situation, or in the local community, or against bigger enemies, then we will face opposition. The Greek word for a “witness” is the root word for our word “martyr”.

While we pray for God’s Kingdom and seek justice for all, we pray we do not find ourselves in a time of trial, a time of overt persecution, we pray that we will be delivered from, kept from evil.

Jesus the one who – for our sake – endured punishment, humiliation, pain and death, the ultimate time of testing, does not wish this on us, but the world is such that this is the reality for too many.

As we pray these lines, may we remember the suffering persecuted peoples of the world, especially our Christian brothers and sisters, pray for them and consider what we can do.

One charity which focuses on the persecuted church is Barnabas Fund – Barnabas Fund: Hope and Aid for the Persecuted Church

We are fortunate to live in a society where there is peace and the rule of Law. We should not take this for granted. Nor should we be immune to the ongoing injustices or the lack of concern for others in other parts of the world.

May God’s Kingdom come in its fulness, and may we be spared the horror of persecution and evil. May we not forget that God in Jesus took upon himself the sin of the world, enduring the Cross, ‘for us and for our salvation he came down from heaven’, Thanks be to God.