Jesus tells his disciples to pray, “Deliver us from evil,” to remind us that there is a war that is raging in our world. The war is not between nations but between God and forces that are waging war against all that God and his kingdom stands for.
There is no doubt about how this war ends: God wins, the kingdom of God wins, God’s will is established here on earth as it is heaven. But until that is the reality at the second coming of Jesus, there are forces at work to destroy everything God stands for.
The Greek actually says, “Deliver us from the evil one.”
It would be easy if the evil one was the guy in the red suit with a pitched fork. That guy would be easy to pick out. But the reality is that sometimes it’s the colleague who wants us to lie to our clients, it’s our friends who want us to join them in activities we know to be wrong, it’s popular culture that wants us to turn a blind eye to injustice and wrong. And, sometimes, it’s us. It’s us when we know what is right and good and we want to do the very opposite.
“Deliver us from the evil one.”
When we pray this we are asking God to deliver us from the evil that pulls us down, the evil that wants us to focus only on things on earth, the evil that wants to blind us to God’s goodness and his will.
We pray, “Deliver us from evil,” because we are powerless to deliver ourselves, not matter how hard we try. Only God can deliver us. Only God can save us. Only God can change us.
When disciples pray, “Deliver us from evil,” we are asking God to give us the wisdom to discern God’s will from the bad and to have the courage to change what needs to be changed. And, oftentimes, this prayer is asking God to change us. We are the ones who need to be reminded on a daily basis that God is at work in our world. Evil will meet God’s justice and righteousness. Evil will one day have to answer to God for its work.
Until that day, disciples pray, “Deliver us from evil,” so that we can join God in establishing God’s will here are on earth as it is in heaven.