Wednesday, August 08, 2007

(H) But Deliver Us From Evil

[But Deliver Us From Evil]
This is a prayer that is related to the previous one. Once forgiveness has been sought and given, a person is cleansed, renewed and ready for spiritual work. However, where can one go? To the left, there is temptation. To the right, there is evil. How then do we approach our holy God? Remember that we are still in prayer. I will suggest the following three reflections.
#1 - It is a Prayer of Awareness of one's weakness alone (Looking In)
Apart from Christ, we can do nothing; nothing of spiritual worth, or in fact any value. Measured against the powers of the world, we are indeed weak to fight on our own. We become mindful of self-conceit which deceives oneself that one is sufficient in self. We become wary of depending on our own strengths, thinking that we are able to overcome the mighty waves on a tiny boat. We become conscious that there are things that we cannot do on our own. Our eyes are opened to the gates and boundaries which serve to protect us from vicious wolves, rather than becoming caged-in creatures. We thus learn to appreciate any spiritual enclosures that is meant to help us, not harm or frustrate us.

#2 - It is a desire to follow God, and not worldly signs (Looking Up)
Not to be led towards evil is an acknowledgement that God is in control. Often it is the desire to depend on one's wisdom that tricks us into thinking that we are in control. The danger for Christians is the readiness in saying we need God, while by our actions we declare we do NOT need God. For example, we sometimes say "God bless our plans" before and after a planning meeting, when the process of planning we are more conscious of self-ability than God's guidance!

#3 - It is a commitment that we will not be the one to tempt or to lead others towards evil. (Looking Out)
We have been warned that our battles are not against flesh and blood, but against powers, against principalities, against the forces of darkness in this world. We need to take care that our souls and our lives are not carriers of the deadly spiritual virus. Sin is tricky. It uses any living agents around, both believers as well as non-believers. It is invisible. It can take any form and it can appear like an angel of light. One cannot fight it with modern weapons or technological know-how. It can only be fought with a discerning heart. First, it takes discernment to know evil lurks in every corner, waiting to trip any believer. Second, it takes discernment to keep our attention in check, to notice happenings around and to pledge not to perform acts of disobedience to God. It only takes a tiny foothold for the devil to dampen, or eventually destroy our spiritual devotion to God. Finally, it takes discernment to know that any trials or tribulations are but for a short while. Perseverance to continue and wisdom towards faithful living.

The cry for deliverance from evil is a critical prayer lament. We are told to live as wise as serpents, and as innocent as doves. It recognizes that heaven is a far more desirable place, and that our time on earth is limited. The saints continue to cry out "How long O Lord?" and each day we look forward to the coming kingdom, as we participate and call out with all creation, the groaning desire to see and to want to see God's glory magnified throughout all the earth. That time will come. It will come when all creation bow their knees, and every tongue confess that Christ is LORD. Come Lord Jesus. Maranatha!

ἀλλὰ ῥῦσαι ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ τοῦ πονηροῦ.

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