And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
The sixth and final petition that Jesus teaches us pray has to do with our lives in a fallen and wicked world. It is a world given over to sin and Satan. And because of our ongoing struggle with sin God has promised that in this fallen world he will test our faith through various trials:
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:6-7)
The sixth petition is concerned with our conflict with evil: “and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” The traditional translation uses the word “temptation,” and this is still used much today. However, the idea seems not to be “temptation” in the immediate sense, for the Bible says that God does not tempt anyone to evil. So that would be an unnecessary prayer. It probably should have as its primary rendering “lead us not into testing/trial.” And yet, “temptation” is not totally unrelated to this meaning. The use here may combine the ideas of trials and testing. It would not make much sense to pray for God to not test us since the Scriptures promise that he does test us in order to sanctify us. A good illustration (there are many in the Old Testament) is in the wilderness, such as in Exodus 15, where the Lord led the people to bitter water to test them. There they sinned against the Lord by murmuring against him. God led them to the test; but it was their response to the test that was sinful. So there is a fine line between the two. Nevertheless, no one can say that God led them to or made them sin (James 1:13). But it is true that God puts us into situations for the purpose of refining and strengthening our faith (Romans 5:3-5; James 1:2-4).
Therefore, it seems that Jesus is intending for us to pray that God not lead us into a place of trials that would be so severe as to bring about a fall into sin. The final clause shows that the ultimate desire is victory over evil in this world: “deliver us from evil,” or more likely, “the evil one.” Satan often hides in our times of trial for his opportunity to lead us into sin. So to fail to demonstrate faith in a time of testing would be to succumb to the evil one. The focus of the prayer is for spiritual victory over all evil in the world.
The final petition of the Lord’s Prayer is a reminder that while Satan, our adversary, may seek every opportunity to crush us, it is only ever the Lord’s purpose to refine us. We may not always feel the need or have the desire to have our faith refined and our character conformed to that of Christ, but our Heavenly Father is pleased to use trials of various kinds in order to bring forth a people who shine like lights in this dark world.