by R. Albert Mohler, Jr., excerpted from his book The Prayer That Turns The World Upside Down: The Lord’s Prayer As A Manifesto For Revolution
Jesus’ reminder to pray regularly against temptation reminds us just how prevalent and dangerous the appeal of sin can be in the Christian life. Once again the issue of kingdom and kingship is front and center. Sin and temptation are harsh masters. As the story of Cain reminds us, sin doesn’t just want to play a minor role in our life; it wants to “rule” over us (Gen. 4:7). Asking to be delivered from sin and temptation is a cry that emerges only from the heart of a citizen of God’s kingdom. We desire to submit to the rule and reign of God, not the dominion of sin. This petition is one of kingdom warfare, asking that God conquer the powers of sin, Satan, and the demons so that we might live for his heavenly kingdom. This petition also reminds us of several other very important points. First, Christians must recognize that temptations are a real and daily threat to communion with God and life with Christ. The most dangerous thing a Christian can ever do is believe that he is somehow immune to temptation. In fact, failing to account for the dangers of temptation betrays a severe misunderstanding of the gospel. In the gospel we come to recognize both the depravity of our hearts and the freedom of God’s grace in Christ.
If we, at any point, think that we are somehow freed up from fighting temptation, then we have both overestimated our own spiritual state and grossly underestimated our need for God’s grace. Second, this petition reminds us that we are not able to resist temptation by our own power. Most people know by experience that our willpower is not quite as strong as we would like to think. Anyone who has ever struggled to keep up with a diet plan knows just how weak-willed we can be. Even as we work to achieve our goals through sheer willpower, we find ourselves incapable of willing more willpower! The gospel, however, and this petition in the Lord’s Prayer turn our attention away from our own strength to the strength of another. Jesus does not teach us to pray, “Lord, give me more willpower in the fight against sin.” He teaches us to ask for shepherding and deliverance—“ Lead us not into temptation, and deliver us from evil.” These words express a heart of dependence, not self-sufficiency.
In fact, consider the phrase “deliver us.” These are words of desperation and powerlessness, not self-sufficiency. Jesus does not teach us to pray that God might “help a bit” or “give strength.” We do not meet God halfway and trust him to do the rest. Rather, God does it all! He is the deliverer; we are the delivered. He is the savior; we are the saved. The Bible does not teach that God helps those who help themselves; instead, God helps those who are at the end of themselves. The gospel teaches that only by God’s grace can we truly overcome the temptations of the world, the wickedness of our own hearts, and the power of the Devil.
Third, Christians must pray for endurance in the fight against temptation. Remember, Jesus is giving us a model prayer, which means these are the types of petitions that should characterize our prayer life every day. Christians should pray this petition, as well as for the grace to overcome temptation all the way to the grave.
— R. Albert Mohler, Jr.,The Prayer That Turns The World Upside Down
How to Use This Book
R. Albert Mohler Jr. has been called “one of America’s most influential evangelicals” (Economist) and the “reigning intellectual of the evangelical movement” (Time.com). Mohler is the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and the author of many books, including We Cannot Be Silent. In his latest book, The Prayer That Turns The World Upside Down, Al teaches readers how to participate in the radical transformative prayer that Jesus taught his first disciples.
“Our Father, who art in heaven…”
In this groundbreaking new book, Mohler recaptures the urgency and transformational nature of the prayer, revealing once again its remarkable, world-upending power. Step by step, phrase by phrase, The Prayer that Turns the World Upside Down explains what these words mean and how we are to pray them. The Lord’s Prayer is the most powerful prayer in the Bible, taught by Jesus to those closest to him. We desperately need to relearn its power and practice. The Prayer that Turns the World Upside Down shows us how.