And don’t let us yield to temptation
An excerpt from Sheridan Voysey's new book Resilient: Your Invitation to a Jesus-Shaped Life, which launches on Wednesday October 21 (don’t miss the free giveaways here). Resilient is a book of 90 readings tracing the theme of resilience through the Sermon on the Mount and beyond
“And don’t let us yield to temptation,
but rescue us from the evil one.”
In her early twenties, Mimi began working at a brothel, lured by the offer of easy money to pay off her university debts.
“At first it felt empowering,” she told me. “How many people can command a day’s wages for half an hour of their time?”
But the darkness of this world soon became evident. “I met other sex workers who dreamed of going back to finish their degrees but got hooked on drugs or pimped out instead,” she said. “And I always wondered whether my clients were depriving their children of school books or shoes by handing their money to me.”
Despite this, Mimi kept working in the field. The big money began funding a lavish lifestyle, and working nights meant she lost touch with her friends. Then things began spiraling out of control.
“I fell pregnant to a client,” Mimi said. “I realized I couldn’t raise a child in that environment, so I left. I married the father, but he couldn’t forget my past so we broke up. I went from having lots of money each week to having little. All my social connections were gone and I felt isolated. That’s when I started contemplating suicide.”
Instead, Mimi cried out to Jesus. “I asked him to take control of my life and this inner calm came over me like I’d never felt before,” she said. “That was only six weeks ago and ever since the depression has gone.”
But with money tight and her work history difficult to explain to potential employers, Mimi was feeling tempted to return to her old life. “If the options are raising my child on instant noodles or getting good money working at a massage parlor, maybe I’ll go back.”
Mimi’s experience reveals the strategy the evil one, Satan, uses to trap all of us.
First, he exploits our weakness with an enticing proposition: we’re in debt and he offers us money through prostitution or theft; we’re lonely and he suggests an affair to find intimacy; we’re depressed and he proposes a stimulant to make us happy.
Then he isolates us from the people we need: we lose touch with friends and family, we drift from Christian community, and we start living in secret to hide our shame.
Finally, he enslaves us: like Mimi, we find ourselves trapped in a place of destruction.
The prayer recognizes something important about us: our vulnerability
“And don’t let us yield to temptation,” Jesus teaches us to pray next in his Sermon, “but rescue us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13). The prayer recognizes something important about us: our vulnerability. We’re vulnerable to our own distorted desires (James 1:13–15), the alluring but destructive ways of the world (1 John 2:15–17), and the strategies of the evil one who plots our downfall (1 Peter 5:8–9).
“Don’t let Mimi yield to temptation, Lord!” we pray. “Rescue her from the evil one!”
“And don’t let me yield to my own temptations!” we pray, whether to lust, get revenge, spread gossip, or give in to some other addictive desire. “Rescue us from the evil one, Lord! Don’t let us be enticed, isolated, and enslaved.”
Some Bible translations end Jesus’ teaching on prayer with the words, “For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”
While they’re not found in the oldest biblical manuscripts we have, the words are a fitting conclusion to our prayers. As we pray for ourselves and others like Mimi, we acknowledge the existence of a greater power than ourselves or the evil one.
We pray to the One who has all power to rescue us.
Sheridan Voysey is a writer, speaker and broadcaster on faith and spirituality. His sixth book Resilient: Your Invitation to a Jesus-Shaped Life launches this Wednesday October 21, with a bunch of free giveaways to celebrate.
Image: Steph Cottam
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