Matthew 6:13

Setting and Overview
Matthew 6:13 concludes the Lord’s Prayer with two petitions that can easily be read as two sides of a single petition. Similar to the previous two petitions, it calls for our participation, while also reminding us that we are ultimately dependent on God to provide for and deliver us. It can also be a challenging sentence to understand, so it is good for us to strive to answer three different questions: 1. What is this telling us to pray for? 2. How can we specifically pray according to this? 3. Having prayed according to this, how are we expected to participate in God’s answer?
 
Exposition
The key challenge to understanding Matthew 6:13 is determining the “temptations” which He is instructing us to petition God to not lead us into. The Greek word peirasmon, is used to refer alternatively to tests, trials, and temptations at different places in the New Testament. Depending on the way that it can be used, the connotation can be either positive (although certainly not enjoyable), negative, or potentially both. A good example of this diversity is in James 1, where we are told to be thankful for trials (James 1:2) because God uses them to strengthen us, ready to endure testing (James 1:12) because it will confirm our standing and lead to rewards, and aware that temptations don’t come from God (James 1:13), although the same root word is used in all three situations. To further understand the reference in Matthew 6:13a, we can look at the second half of the verse, where the petition is to deliver us from evil, primarily a reference to Satan (Matthew 4:1-11) but pointing more broadly to all evil forces. Since the second petition seems to be in support of the first, that helps us to understand that temptation is primarily meant along the lines of how it is used in James 1:13 – a temptation from Satan that has the intended purpose of making us fall away.
That understanding of temptation should provide some clarity to us on what this petition is and is not. From other passages in the New Testament, we know that we should expect to be tested, to face difficulties, to face persecutions, and to be exposed to temptations to sin. Further, we also see that God Himself will never tempt us. Based on that, we can then see this petition as a request that God will not allow us to be brought into a temptation that will overtake us, that He will not leave us vulnerable and helpless against Satan, but rather that He will deliver us into righteousness.
 
Examination and Application

Before we pray, we should already be aware of the devastating impact and power of sin (Romans 6:16), and of our vulnerability to sin (I John 1:8-10, Galatians 6:1, Matthew 26:41b.) We should then consistently pray that we will not fall into temptation (Matthew 26:41a), and be aware of the many sins that we might be tempted to overlook in our own lives or believe that we are not susceptible to. After praying, we should then participate in God’s answer to that prayer, fleeing from sin and pursuing righteousness (I Corinthians 10:14, 6:18, I Timothy 2:22, 6:11), resisting Satan and submitting to God (Romans 6:12-13, James 4:7-8a), and seeking to be cleansed of all unrighteousness (James 4:8b.) To put it another way, we need to be on alert to the danger that we will fall into sin (I Corinthians 10:12), constantly praying for and participating in our being led away from temptation.
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