In the Lord’s Prayer, we ask Him to grant us the grace not to succumb to temptations. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, prayer, sacrifice, and the support of good people, we are given this grace.
PUBLISHED ONDec 2021
The Compendium of the Catholic Church, n. 596 says: “We ask God our Father not to leave us alone and in the power of temptation. We ask the Holy Spirit to help us know how to discern, on the one hand, between a trial that makes us grow in goodness and a temptation that leads us to sin and death and, on the other hand, between being tempted and consenting to temptation. This petition unites us to Jesus who overcame temptation by his prayer. It requests the grace of vigilance and of final perseverance.”
This petition of the ‘Our Father’ does not ask God that we may never find ourselves in situations of temptation. Temptation is part and parcel of the process of growth of every human being, including the disciples of Jesus. Suffering and temptation spare no one as they did not spare Christ Himself. What we ask God is not to fall into temptation thanks to the energy He gives us through the Holy Spirit, through prayer and sacrifice, and through good people who support us.
God’s Forgiveness Is Great
If we have fallen into sin, then with humility, faith, and trust, we ask God not to allow us to despair thinking that we cannot be forgiven by Him. The Holy Scripture makes us understand that God’s desire to forgive us is always infinitely greater than the desire we may have to be forgiven by Him.
Every temptation can assume different facets:
It can be a situation that can make us turn our backs upon God and move on the road of sin.
It can mislead us so that, instead of trusting in God, we may trust in human power, in money, in success, in pleasure, and in ourselves.
It can make us love things and use people instead of putting things and people in the flow of God’s love.
Every temptation is an occasion in which great possibilities we have in us can be awakened and developed.
Where do temptations come from? Saint James says: “Never, when you are being put to the test, say ’God is tempting me.’ God cannot be tempted by evil, and he does not put anybody to the test. Everyone is put to the test by being attracted and seduced by that person’s own wrong desire. Then the desire conceives and gives birth to sin, and when sin reaches full growth, it gives birth to death.”(James 1:13-14) So God is not the one tempting us; He is the one who wants and can free His children from every temptation leading to sin.
Commitment To Purify Our Hearts
In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus says: “It is from the heart of men that evil intentions emerge: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, malice, deceit, indecency, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within and make a person unclean.” Asking God not to abandon us to temptation implies a commitment to purify our hearts and prayer to ask the Spirit for enlightenment so that we may be able to distinguish between what is good and what is bad, between what leads to death and what leads to life. Every temptation can be ambiguous: to be accepted by us, evil dresses itself with what appears as good; none of us would drink from a bottle labeled ‘poison’, and none of us would do evil things if the devil did not make them appear as good.
When we are hit by pain, sickness, and misfortune, we risk losing our faith, we risk falling into despair and letting darkness talk to our fragile hearts. That is the time we pray: “Do not leave us alone and in the power of temptation.” It is interesting to notice that it is Jesus himself asking us to pray in this manner and to pray with faith and confidence in God’s power to save.
We pray: “Lord God, as we are inclined to sin, give us a vision of heaven enabling us not to fall into temptation but to stand seeking what is good.”