Reflections on Prayer - September

Matthew 6:13 “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”

 By Lisa Espinoza

Lord, please don’t let one more double fudge brownie pass through my lips. God, help me not to cheat on my taxes…again. Please help me keep my thoughts in check when that cute new co-worker walks by.

At first glance, it seems simple enough. We just figure out what “no-no”s trip us up and ask God to keep us from falling prey to them. Right? Not so much. This passage speaks not to a set of vices but rather to the real heart of the matter.

Dallas Willard in Renovation of the Heart says, “This is the basic idea back of all temptation: God is presented as depriving us by His commands of what is good, so we think we must take matters into our own hands and act contrary to what He has said.”

This month we ask God to reveal the specific areas in which we doubt His plan for us and instead are chasing after fulfillment our own way.

Week 1

Read Matthew 4:1-11

Every temptation we face can be described in one word—detour. Satan’s goal in tempting us is that we would choose an alternate route for fulfilling of our needs and desires than that which God has planned for us.

When Satan tempted Jesus in the desert, Jesus refused to take the “detour” to power, sustenance and ego fulfillment. He chose to trust that God’s way was best, and he remained obedient to the Father’s plan to glorify his Son through the pain of the cross.

Write out Hebrews 4:15, 16 and keep it with you this week. Each time you feel tempted to take a detour, read this passage and allow God’s strength to help you stay on the right path.

Week 2

The face of temptation is most often not grotesque and evil, announcing its intention upon first encounter. Instead it is a “girl next door” sort of appeal that draws us innocently into an idea…a plan…a choice. It’s the desire for financial security that results in unscrupulous business practices or the need for love that results in inappropriate relationships.

How is the face of temptation disguising itself to you? This week spend some time quietly reflecting and journaling about this question.

Week 3

Often our greatest temptations emanate from our deep need for unconditional love. We search for that kind of love, and when we fail to  find it, we begin substituting other things—food, money, relationships, accomplishments, busyness.

In his powerful book The Return of the Prodigal Son, Henri Nouwen writes, “I am the prodigal son every time I search for unconditional love where it cannot be found. Why do I keep ignoring the place of true love and persist in looking for it elsewhere? Why do I keep leaving home where I am called a child of God, the Beloved of my Father?”

This week carve out an hour away from work, family, and other responsibilities. This is your time to meet with the Father. Pour out your heart to Him. Tell Him all the ways you’ve been searching for unconditional love where it cannot be found. Come home to the Father.

Week 4

Step One in the life-changing 12-Step recovery program basically says, “We admitted we were powerless…” When we pray, “Don’t lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one,” we are admitting our own powerlessness against temptation and acknowledging that only God has the power to keep us from being overcome by temptation and falling into sin. When we truly fall into the sufficiency of God, we find life-giving freedom.

Pull out your journal and finish this sentence: God, I admit that I am powerless against the temptation to … Each time this week you face this temptation, picture yourself falling into the arms of God and saying, “Father, I’m powerless, but your are powerful.”