“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father …” (James 1:17)
The petition “Lead us not into temptation” (Matthew 6:13) has often confused people. It can be misread to imply that God leads us into temptation. But would God actually do that? No.
As we reflect on this petition, let’s be perfectly clear: God does not tempt us. Period.
But, as the book of James helps us understand, God does allow testing and trials. God tested Abraham, Moses, Job, and others. Jesus himself faced temptations in the wilderness, testing at the hands of religious leaders, and an unimaginable trial as he gave up his own life to pay the debt of our sins.
God allows testing and trials as opportunities for refining our faith. It’s not so that he can say “Gotcha!” or pounce on our failings or make accusations. Out of fatherly love, God can use trials and testing to nudge us along in our growth in faith as followers of Jesus.
When we pray, “Lead us not into temptation,” we’re humbly admitting our own weakness and tendency to stumble. We’re reaching out in sheer dependence on God. We’re asking him to guide and help us through every trial and temptation of life. We’re trusting and believing with all of our hearts that he will never leave us or forsake us but always love and protect us.
We confess, Father, that we have no strength on our own to resist temptations. Please guide and protect us. We trust that you will never lead us where your grace cannot keep us safe in your care. Amen.