Jesus gives us these words to pray: “Deliver us from evil (or the evil one)”. I believe Jesus is trying to reminder us that this spiritual war is all too real, that Evil desires to undo the Good News, and that Satan is the ultimate guerrilla warrior.
Jesus is pushing us back to the Deliverer. He knows our human tendency to either ignore evil or arrogantly overestimate our own defences. He knows our flight/fight response. He brings hope by reminding us that the battle belongs to the Lord.
As I type this, another war is starting. Turkey is going on an offensive against the Kurds. Another conflict in a long line of human hatred. I recently saw a list of the major wars in world history. It took over four pages to complete the list. No wonder Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers”.
Yet we are also in a war. Not a physical war against flesh and blood. Not cultural war. Not ideological war. Ephesians 6 reminds us:
We are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
This is spiritual war conducted behind the veil, unseen by human eyes, yet all too real. These schemes of the devil are attempts to “steal, kill and destroy” the life that Jesus has brought and continues to bring.
In this war, we tend toward two extremes:
- We give very little thought, intention, or preparation to the conflict. Because it’s not physically present, we ignore it. If we do think about it, we cower.
- We over-sensationalise our role in it. We believe that we can somehow single-handedly defeat all the powers of evil with the words of our mouth or the actions of our hands.
My descriptions may be overly simplistic; however, both extremes are recipes for disaster.
Jesus gives us these words to pray: “Deliver us from evil (or the evil one)”. I believe Jesus is trying to reminder us that this war is all too real, that Evil desires to undo the Good News, and that Satan is the ultimate guerrilla warrior. Christ defeated Him, yet he is still waging war. We need our eyes opened, like Elisha’s servant in 2 Kings 6. We need to be aware and prepared. However, if that is all this phrase does for us, we are still doomed. On our own, we have no hope; no matter how prepared we think we are.
Jesus is pushing us back to the Deliverer. He knows our human tendency to either ignore evil or arrogantly overestimate our own defences. He knows our flight/fight response. He brings hope by reminding us that the battle belongs to the Lord. “When your enemy presses in hard do not fear; the battle belongs to the Lord”. We stand in His power, with His authority – not ours. The words of the Lord’s Prayer are an acknowledgement of our frailty and a plea to the one true source of strength and deliverance.
Even though our deliverance comes from Christ, we can’t remain idle. We still have a part to play. Prayer is key! The war can never be won when communication breaks down. An army can’t carry out commands if they haven’t been briefed.
May the words of Ephesians 6 guide us into God-powered deliverance:
A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in His might power. Put on all of God’s armour so that you will be able to stand firm against all of the strategies of the devil…Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armour so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil…Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.