Article by: Bishop S. Mueller
In Psalm 135: 6 we read a striking statement: “Whatever the Lord pleases He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deep places.”
At first glance, these words may not come as a great surprise. After all, we know that God is omnipotent. However, this passage not only implies that God can
do whatever He pleases, but that He actually does
whatever He pleases. This means that His will always ends up being done. There are no exceptions. This fact may prompt one or the other to ask, “If God does whatever He wants anyway, why even bother praying?” The answer is that we need to commune with God, the source of our very existence and indeed of all life—both spiritual and natural, both present and eternal—on an ongoing basis, just as His Son demonstrated while He was on this earth.
Jesus, who is both true Man and true God, demonstrated perfectly what it means to pray when He taught His disciples the “Lord’s Prayer”. All seven of its pleas are in harmony with the will of God and will thus be fulfilled. One of these—often considered the most puzzling—is the request: “And do not lead us into temptation”
. After all, would God lead us into temptation? Well, not quite—but He does permit us to be tempted. Even the Son of God was subjected to temptation. Nevertheless, He resisted the evil one and decided in favour of His Father’s will.
Why does God allow temptation in the first place? We can already see it in the Garden of Eden. The fact that the first human beings had been created in the image of God meant that they had to be exposed to temptation. Otherwise, they would have been no more at liberty than migrating geese or hibernating bears, which have no choice but to follow the programming of instinct. Temptation is the only way for human beings to truly exercise their freedom of decision, a defining trait of their humanity, and thereby demonstrate their choice to love God.
For example, if you were to go to the store to buy a container of juice, and the only juice to be found there was orange juice, your freedom of decision would be pointless since there would be no real choice available to you! If the only option in Eden had been God’s will, there would have been nothing else for humankind to choose. The temptation to which we are exposed in life is there to give us a real choice, with real consequences. And although He does allow us to be tempted, He will never allow us to be tempted beyond our ability, as we read in 1 Corinthians 10: 13.
When we ask that God should not lead us into temptation, we are asking Him to help us resist sin, that our trials of faith may not be too severe, and that we may remain protected from the many other temptations of Satan. This request is perfectly in line with the will of God and will thus be granted every time! Our faithful God thereby makes it possible for us to do exactly as Jesus did when He was confronted with temptation, namely to overcome doubt, sin, and our own will, and to choose to serve God, love our neighbour, and prioritise our salvation.
Let us not only pray these words, let us also remember to trust in the power they promise!