The question of what we should pray for is an interesting one. I once wrote about asking for “personal, selfish things” and that article seems to have garnered a good bit of interest. But I do think we fall into praying ruts, which is one reason I pray through the Lord’s Prayer most every day. I try to make it thoughtful, not rote, making each petition my own and seeking the Lord through it.
Our praying ruts can be especially dangerous if they leave out a prayer that Jesus teaches us to pray in His famous prayer: “Lead us not into temptation.” And it’s interesting that the Lord tells his disciples to especially pray this prayer as the hour or trial came upon them:
And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” Luke 22:39-40 (ESV)
It was such a significant prayer that Jesus reiterated it a little later, when he found the boys dozing:
And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” Luke 22:45-46 (ESV)
Jesus knew that a very difficult hour was coming upon them, and therefore He knew what they needed to be praying for, help in keeping their commitment to Him and to His cause. “Lord, keep us from temptation and sin!” And we can surmise why the Lord kept reminding His disciples to pray this way: wasn’t it this basic prayer that Jesus Himself prayed as He sweat great drops of blood in the Garden? “Not My will, but Thine be done.”
It’s a good lesson for you and me. What is the temptation that you struggle with? Is it a sharp temper toward your little ones when you come home at the end of a hard day? Then let that car ride home be a time that you pray not to enter into temptation. Is it the “all-you-can-eat” buffet that the gang from work is heading to tomorrow? Pray today for strength tomorrow to order a salad off the menu.
This kind of prayer is powerful. And if I’m not mistaken, we often overlook it. So take some time and think through your particular struggles, and ask the Lord to keep you from temptation.
The Father graciously answered His Son, to our eternal benefit, and He will come to our aid as well.
For tomorrow, Friday, July 31st: Luke 23