Summary: There is a spiritual battle going on and we need to ask for God’s protection to equip us with armor for the battle.
Over the last five weeks, we have been in a series on prayer called “Lord, Teach Us to Pray.” We have been focusing on the Lord’s Prayer as Jesus’ primary teaching for us on how to model our prayers, not to be legalistic saying this is how you must pray, but to enhance our prayer life. Perhaps we could say, to have a more complete prayer life. So far we have looked at five areas of prayer: relationship, honoring, yielding, petition, forgiveness. In fact repeat these after me [say them again]. Prayer is about a relationship with God, “our Father who art in heaven.” Prayer is talking with God our Father. We begin our prayers by honoring God, “hallowed be thy name.” We honor God by praising him, telling God how great he is, we appreciate God for what he has done in our life. Then we are invited to pray, “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” we are asking God to bring his kingdom on earth just as it is in heaven. One of the primary ways God brings his kingdom is by using us, his people. So we are asking God to use us to accomplish his purposes on earth. Therefore we yield or submit ourselves to God so that he will work through us until our life, our family, and our community begin to reflect God’s kingdom in heaven. After focusing on God, his plan, his will, then Jesus invites us to petition or to ask God for our own personal needs and the needs of others, “give us this day our daily bread.” It could be a need for food, healing, employment. By praying this we are also recognizing God is the provider for all of our needs both physical and spiritual. Last week we looked at forgiveness, “forgive us our debts (trespasses) as we forgive our debtors (those who trespass against us).” Without having forgiveness as a regular part of our prayer life, our prayers cease to be powerful and effective because our sin distances us from God. By regularly seeking God’s forgiveness and offering forgiveness to those who have wronged us, we renew a right relationship with God and with others and our prayers become more effective.
In this last week on the Lord’s Prayer we are looking at Jesus’ concluding line, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Our focus today is on protection. The last part of our prayer should focus on asking God to protect us. Once we have renewed a right relationship with God, and we are forgiven, we are righteous, we want to keep it that way. We don’t want to fall away. We want to stay close with God, and be doing his will. But there are forces working within us and outside of us which are working against God. If we try to follow God on our own strength, we will fail. We need God’s strength and protection to help us from falling in the future. We need protection from temptation and evil, or as our newer translations more accurately translate this, the evil one.
I. Deliver Us from the Evil One
I believe this is an important distinction to make. The difference between deliver us from evil and deliver us from the evil one. Barna Research Group tells us, 6 out of 10 Americans believe Satan “is not a living being but only a symbol for evil.” I realize some of you here this morning may not believe in a being called Satan. I’m not talking about a guy in red tights with horns carrying a pitchfork, I am talking about the being which was once defined in the Bible as the most beautiful of angels who was cast out of heaven because of his rebellion against God, and who is now the Prince of this World.
I think it is a big mistake to ignore the Bible’s teaching about Satan and believe he is just a representative for evil. Why? Because we first ignore what the Bible says, and second because we stick our head in the sand and pretend there isn’t a spiritual battle being waged when Scripture clearly indicates there is. That there is a being working against God, his plans, and against his people. If Satan is just a representative for evil, we don’t really need to worry about it because we won’t necessarily be a target. But if Satan and evil spirits are real then we must not only be careful, because you are in the Satan’s crosshairs as a follower of Jesus Christ.
The Bible tells us that there is a spiritual battle going on. God is on one side, and Satan with the rest of his fallen angels (we call demons) on the other side. Satan himself is only a fallen angel and God has given him only limited amounts of power, but he is able to wreak havoc upon our world.