“Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matt 6:13).
Reading a few verses prior to this (v.13), we can imagine the Pharisees of the day, standing at prominent places, all dedicated to a prayer that was meant to catch the people’s attention. Jesus had something to say about them and their way of prayer (Matthew 6:5-8). From his words we infer that, when it comes to prayer, there are two attitudes:
1. An attitude that seeks visibility and attention – hence the most visible places and theatrical performance. This attitude to prayer achieves:
-visibility and attention. Their prayer is mostly “seen” by people.
-an immediate and human reward…some people will “think well” of those praying like that…will point at them as examples, etc.
2. An attitude that focuses on God and his mercy, springing from a realistic appreciation of whom they are. This attitude to prayer achieves;
-a genuine sincerity (we tend to be ourselves when no one is watching);
-a delayed but God-given reward…(because it is received in faith) – God “will reward you” (v.6).
Closely related with the right attitude to prayer is the length of it/number of words (many versus few) – v.7, 8.
The underlying thought to a godly prayer is that God “your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (v.8). We have to focus on the essentials: physical health and wellbeing (v.11); spiritual health and wellbeing (v.12); protection against the evil one (v.13).
We are asking God to protect us against an enemy that is way more powerful than us…beyond our capabilities. Paul gives a hint as to the sheer immensity of our adversary. “…we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:11-12).