Lead me not into temptation.
Lead me is a simple prayer asking for God’s leadership. These two words cover a lot of unexplored territory. When I pray asking for God’s leadership, I can be certain that temptation is not the answer. God leads me so that when any form of temptation lurks, I have His map through it or away from it because that’s what I’m asking.
Be clear here. God does not tempt, but he does test. Temptation involves anything that takes you away from God’s will, allows you to treat God as someone He isn’t, or places self-interest before God-interest. Temptation is whatever entices us to believe that something that is not God’s will is more attractive or helpful than His will.
But a test is something completely different. A test reviews how you use what you know about God and His will. A test allows you to demonstrate your ability to follow God’s lead through a hard time or a time of multiple choices when something doesn’t align with God’s will.
You could also pray the first three words as an affirmation of discipleship: Lead me
not. Usually you know where temptation waits. So does God. So when the request to avoid it comes from you, the answer from God is sweeter, deeper, and more empowering. No one is making you do anything. You are declaring your desire and God comes close to strengthen that desire.
We pray lead me not with intention, determination, and unreserved premeditation. We have already decided that we will not be coaxed by anyone or anything that does not allow us to us to embrace God’s will fully. The prayer is simply the Amen, the Yes, Lord, the exclamation point. It clears the way for us to see God's welcoming hand to join Him on a journey no other can give.
The problem of temptation is not God’s invention. God’s enemy and ours devised it and has perfected it. Our prayer is that temptation does not play with our will or develop an appetite for whatever God has pointed to and said, “Don’t.” It is a prayer for protection in some unguarded time when we could turn to expediency, logic, or cultural acceptance over God’s will.
If we can trust God for the needs of existence (daily bread), why would we entertain any temptation that would take us away from the journey that brings us closer to the heart of God?
O God, lead me there.
With all that is in me, I cry; lead me to your heart!.