“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to set us free from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” –Galatians 1:3-5
I begin my letter to you this month with the words that Paul wrote to the church in Galatia because they are quite fitting. Last month we were reminded of the forgiveness that comes to us, not because we ask for it, but because God loves us and promised to forgive us, in order that we would be set free as Paul wrote. When we hear the words of absolution we are left feeling relieved; that a huge weight has been lifted from our shoulders allowing us to stand in God’s glory once again.
In the way that the Lord’s Prayer is arranged, this freeing forgiveness leads straight into our asking God to lead us not into temptation, or to save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. This may seem confusing to ask God to save us from these trials since we were just reminded of the freeing forgiveness of God. But this petition has its value even if it is not readily noticed.
On the surface it may appear that this petition is asking God himself to not present us with temptation. However, this assumes that God is the one that is doing the tempting. In this petition explanation in the Small Catechism, Luther writes, “It is true that God tempts no one.” God is not the one doing the tempting, but God can save us from the temptations that will inevitably come. Luther further explains this concept in the Large Catechism where he clarified how life is full of failures and stumbling. Sure we maybe forgiven of our sins today, but tomorrow we fall once more.
The truth is temptation and evil are all around us, and our sinful selves have a desire to fall into those temptations. But God has the power to save us and with God’s help we can resist those temptations and will be protected from all kinds of evil; namely our own sinful desires. But the fact still remains that we will on many occasion still give into those desires and fall into temptation. However, we have the reassurance from the previous petition that God has already forgiven us.
When Jesus first taught this prayer, or better yet this formula for prayer, he ended with asking God to deliver us from all evil. Amen. However, when we recite the Lord’s Prayer we include the words, “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.” This conclusion, commonly known as the Doxology, that was added to the prayer long after Jesus had ascended into heaven provides a nice and neat wrap up for the whole prayer. It reminds us that all the petitions we named in our prayer are only possible because of how great our God is. Because God has all power and all glory in God’s kingdom means that God has the ability to and will give us our daily bread, deliver us from temptation and evil, and forgive our sins. By adding the ancient word Amen to the very end reinforces that we believe that this is true. As Luther wrote in the Small Catechism, “‘Amen, amen’ means ‘Yes, yes, it is going to come about just like this.’”
There are times in our lives when we feel like the disciples asking Jesus to teach us to pray. We know that we need to, but we may not know how to go about it. Jesus gave us this prayer first and foremost as an outline, a model of what prayer should look like. But in those times when the words do not seem to be there we can rely on the words that Christ gave us, knowing in our hearts that through them God will read our hearts, for God knows us better than we know ourselves, and God will be there to answer our prayers without us even uttering a word. But by praying to God we remind ourselves of this fact which brings us great comfort.
“May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen.” –Galatians 6:18