But deliver us from evil

Eleventh in The Lord's Prayer Series, "The best prayer to pray in times of stress"

Deliver us from evil! How many times has the Lord heard this cry over the centuries? Each plea was recorded in his book, and he easily recalls how often and well he has helped us, though we may forget.

Some of these instances are recorded in the Bible, to remind us to cry out — as though we need any encouragement.

One in particular comes to mind: when Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. This is both a good and a bad example.

It's a bad example because Jesus prayed in agony… earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. (Luke 22:44) Yet, the cup of suffering he dreaded was not removed. We prefer an example where the person is saved from terrors and death.

But it's a good example because his acceptance of God's will is what made possible our deliverance from evil, forever. As we study this instance, we find both the pattern for such prayers and the certainty that our deliverance from evil in the larger sense, HAS BEEN ACCOMPLISHED. Now, as we pray, we are to STAND against evil. Christ has triumphed over our Adversary, and if we belong to Christ, we OWN that victory. Why, then, do we so often live and act as though he accomplished nothing at Calvary? We won. The principalities were spoiled. (Col 2:15)

The account in Matthew notes that Christ prayed three times for the cup of suffering to be removed from him.

And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy. And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. (Mat 26:37-44)

By his second time of prayer, it seems he understood that he would drink the cup: O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. Perhaps the lack of prayer support from his friends was a confirmation to him that he was fast approaching his Passion. As we see, the pattern for prayer for deliverance is to pray more than once, and to ask above all for God's will to be done.

How sad that Christ's encouragement to his friends to pray included a proverb that today is used lightly, even laughingly, to set aside the need to make an effort to do the right thing. One succumbs to the temptation to overeat, or becomes "high," or does not avert his gaze from the opposite sex object, or overspends on a desired item: "The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak," they say to themselves, chuckling. This is an offense to the Holy Spirit, who is willing.

If we truly believed that the Spirit is willing to help us, and understood his immense power, we would take heart and easily conquer our tendencies to weakness and backsliding.

Often we think of Christ suffering willingly, and he did, but it was not a thirst to meet evil head on. He deeply desired to be obedient to the Father's plan.

As we pray, "Deliver us from evil," if we are crying out to be released from torment of emotions, thoughts and habits that have become our masters, it is certain we will gain the help we need.* But if in a complex stressful circumstance, leave room for the Lord to answer your prayer as he wills. Though evil may appear to win, its victory will be short-lived.

*Some exceptions to a speedy deliverance from evil are noted in the Westminster Confession.

WC Chapter XVIII, IV:

True believers may have the assurance of their salvation divers ways shaken, diminished, and intermitted; as, by negligence in preserving of it; by falling into some special sin, which woundeth the conscience, and grieveth the Spirit; by some sudden or vehement temptation; by God’s withdrawing the light of his countenance, and suffering even such as fear him to walk in darkness, and to have no light;p yet are they never utterly destitute of that seed of God, and life of faith, that love of Christ and the brethren, that sincerity of heart and conscience of duty, out of which, by the operation of the Spirit, this assurance may in due time be revived,q and by the which, in the meantime, they are supported from utter despair.r Scripture references: p Song. 5:2-3, 6; Ps. 51:8, 12, 14; Eph. 4:30-31; Ps. 77:1-10; Matt. 26:69-72; Ps. 31:22; Ps. 88; Isa. 50:10.; q I John 3:9; Luke 22:32; Job 13:15; Ps. 73:15; Ps. 51:8, 12; Isa. 50:10; r Micah 7:7-9; Jer. 32:40; Isa. 54:7-10; Ps 22:1; Ps. 88.

Also, see WC XVII, III:

Nevertheless they may, through the temptations of Satan and of the world, the prevalency of corruption remaining in them, and the neglect of the means of their preservation, fall into grievous sins;g and for a time continue therein;h whereby they incur God’s displeasure,i and grieve his Holy Spirit;k come to be deprived of some measure of their graces and comforts;l have their hearts hardened,m and their consciences wounded;n hurt and scandalize others,o and bring temporal judgments upon themselves.p g Matt. 26:70, 72, 74; h Ps. 51[The Title]; Ps. 51:14; i Isa. 64:5, 7, 9; II Sam. 11:27; k Eph. 4:30; l Ps. 51:8, 10, 12; Rev. 2:4; Song. 5:2-4, 6; m Isa. 63:17; Mark 6:52; Mark 16:14; n Ps. 32:3-4; Ps. 51:8; o II Sam. 12:14; p Ps. 89: 31-32; I Cor. 11:32.

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Where are your fountains?

A stronghold overtaken - Fifth in a series

Were you born in Zion? Were you born to Christian parents and taught from infancy that God loves you and Jesus Christ is Lord? If so, you have received an immense advantage. You were born in Zion!

I was baptized as an infant and later taught that one should only be baptized once. Many Christians believe one should only be baptized after a conscious decision to follow Christ. Each side has good points, but remarking here on denominational differences is not the point.

Some are born in Zion in later life. We could say the thief on the cross who hung alongside Jesus was born there that day. (Luke 23:43) I would like to see some friends born there. I wish more people in our ravaged culture and nation would be.

There is a physical birth and also a spiritual birth, for whosoever believes, (John 3:16) and we receive the Holy Spirit without whom we cannot grow up in Christ. But does anyone ever receive Him fully? That is our greatest need.

Psalm 87 celebrates being born in Zion: And of Zion it shall be said, "This one and that one were born in her"; for the Most High himself will establish her. The LORD records as he registers the peoples, "This one was born there." (Ps 87:5)

This Psalm speaks of outsiders being born in Zion, even people from Babylon and even Philistines, the heritage of Delilah. (Ps 87:4) How or when this will occur only God knows, but assuredly, we from every nation, tribe, people and language, will be united in a new life. (Rev 5:9; 7:9)

God knows the ones who belong to him (2Tim 2:19) and their names are written in his book (Luke 10:20), a registration that supercedes any baptism or denominational confirmation.

For the Zionist — in the Christian sense of the word, there is no place like home. "All my fountains are in thee." (Ps 87:7)

The Head of Goliath

A stronghold overtaken - Second in a series

Why did David take Goliath's head to Jerusalem? (1 Sam 17:54)

King Saul was presented with the head, but did not retain it as a token of victory. (1 Sam 17:57) No doubt that head had shock value for any who doubted David's prowess, but as we know, David slew Goliath for God's glory, not for his own.

Jerusalem was not wholly Israel's at the time, yet it would seem that David understood that she was Zion, the place where God's victories are prophesied and proclaimed. More on this in the next post, but first, a look at the story of David and Goliath for insight on how to proclaim our own victories in Zion.

The Philistines had gathered at Shochoh in Judah's territory, to the south of Jerusalem. The Israelites had stationed themselves in battle array on a mountain, and a valley separated them from their enemy who stood on an opposite mountain.

This pictures Satan's boast to us that his minions are evenly matched against God's soldiers, mountain to mountain so to speak.

But while we are reflecting on that possibility, he goes further: He wants us to believe he is MORE than a match, to provoke fear in our hearts.

The champion of the enemy nation was Goliath, who stood over six feet tall, possibly much taller, but Bible translations have differences. He wore a brass helmet, a coat of mail (overlapping metal plates) that weighed 5000 shekels of brass (about 125-150 lbs.), had greaves of brass on his legs, and a target of brass between his shoulders. The staff of his spear was solid and straight like a weaver's beam, its head weighing 600 shekels of iron. He also had a shield bearer. (1 Sam 17:4-7)

Before we read of this confrontation, we learn that the Lord had rejected Saul as Israel's king, so God's people were sheep without a shepherd. Satanic attacks are strategic. We little understand his intelligence and heart.

Goliath taunted Israel morning and evening, and presented himself forty days. …I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together. (1 Sam 17:10-16)

Satan, a roaring lion, would wear us down by continual and long trials but God would build us up by this same tactic. We are led to understand the hopelessness of our circumstances unless He provides deliverance. The number 40 in Scripture signifies a period of divine testing.

David, whom Samuel had already anointed as Israel's King (1 Sam 16:13) was jealous for God's honor to take on the challenger. He did it without armor or helper, but by the Spirit of God. This is how we reach Zion as victors.