This is post #7 in a series on how to pray about your work life. Jesus’ first followers assumed he could teach them something about how to carry on an interaction with the Divine so they asked “teach us to pray.” I am applying Jesus’ answer—usually called the Lord’s prayer—to our work life.
At this point in his instructions, Jesus model prayer turns to the darker side of life. He says “pray this way; lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” This simple sentence acknowledges two sources of danger and raises some significant questions for us regarding the efficacy of prayer.
The Struggle On Two Fronts.
Front 1: Temptation is the danger within—the self-destructive part of each us. In the most general sense, it is the human propensity to screw up. Part of the danger-side of work, has to do with the temptations we feel inside to compromise in some way. This is the enemy inside. Jesus says ask that God would not to give you over to attractive yet destructive values, beliefs, habits or choices.
What are typical workplace temptations for you?
Front 2: Evil without. There is wide agreement that there are evils in our world. Here in New York City, as we continue to mark 9/11 anniversaries and witness the slow but magnificent rebuilding of the Financial District, there is no doubt that raw and destructive evil exists in our world. Historically, Christians have believed that systemic, culturally imbedded, and seemingly unexplainable evil acts have an ultimate source in a being whose agenda is to “steel, kill, and destroy.” Thus some version say deliver us from “the evil one.”
What are typical workplace evils that concern you?
Tough Questions: Jesus instructions lead to several questions.
- Why would God ever “hand us over to temptation?”
- How can God be good and allow such evil the world (“Why should we have to worry about evil at all?”)
- And what about all such prayers that have not “worked?” (Praying people who gave into temptation or who were marred by unspeakable evil?)
Questions aside, the inclusion of “lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil” brings validation for the struggle side of our work-life—we doubt ourselves and fear various calamities. If we take Jesus’ model as a pattern for effective praying, we also find a God on the other end of the conversation who cares deeply about the dangers we face.
How About You
What do you take away from this portion of the prayer: “lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.”
Prior Posts in this Series
September 22, 2015 Teach US To Pray For Our Work
September 27, 2015 Why Prayer for our Work, Works
October 4, 2015 The First Request
October 9, 2015 Greek Gods and Workplace Prayers
October 14, 2015 Daily Bread for Your Day Job
October 18, 2015 Spiritual Debt-Forgiveness