Deliver Us From Evil. Amen.

Text: Seventh Petition and Conclusion

Today, we pray the Seventh Petition, “But deliver us from evil.” Luther writes of this petition that it’s like our Lord has combined all of the previous petitions we’ve prayed and summarized them into this final request. We’ve prayed that God’s name would be holy among us, His will done, His kingdom extended, our daily bread be given and received, that the forgiveness be shone forth in our lives, and temptation resisted. By all these things, God is at work in our lives, delivering us from evil and from the evil one – which is what the Greek text originally said in this petition. We end the Lord’s Prayer this week by praying, in summary, that God our heavenly Father would deliver us from every evil of this present age in the glad confidence that He can and will do what He has promised.

I.

            Let us speak the Seventh Petition together.

But deliver us from evil.

What does this mean? We pray in this petition, in summary, that our Father in heaven would rescue us from every evil of body and soul, possessions and reputation, and finally, when our last hour comes, give us a blessed end, and graciously take us from this valley of sorrow to Himself in heaven.[1]

As we’ve already said, this petition is sort of a summary of all the previous petitions and is directed chiefly against the devil, who is the evil one actively working against God and the world. The devil would give everything to see even us without daily bread, without forgiveness, without pure doctrine, and without faith. He prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour, and we pray this petition against him. We ask our heavenly Father to do three things in the Seventh Petition: We ask that He would defend us against all evils of body and soul; that He preserve us in the face of the evils which do befall us; and, we ask that, at the hour of our death, our Father would allow us to die in the faith and be carried to His side in heaven.

Yes, we do believe in the devil. The devil is not a god, for there is no other God; but, he is a fallen angel. Shortly after Creation there was a rebellion in heaven, and Lucifer and his followers were cast out. Jesus said that Satan is a liar and murderer who opposes the truth and all things good. As such, he seeks to lead all he can away from the truth of the Gospel – even, if he can, you and me. The devil uses disasters and calamities, and also pleasures, to lead us astray from God’s Word and faith. We ask in the Seventh Petition that God would preserve us from the assaults of the devil, and from all evils of body and soul. We pray that He would thwart the old, ancient foe and finally bring all his works to nothing.

Even still, there are some evils that God allows us to suffer. It has been the experience of the saints through all time that we suffer many hardships in this earthly life. Our Lord said, “In the world, you will have tribulation.”[2] St. Paul also taught that, “through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”[3] Our heavenly Father allows us to suffer for two reasons. Sometimes, God allows us to suffer as the earthly consequences of sin. Death and illness are good examples of this. God uses suffering for another purpose, however, and that is that He uses our earthly sufferings to discipline and train us in righteousness. In Proverbs it says, “Do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of His reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom He loves.”[4] We pray in the Seventh Petition, that God would preserve us from despairing in our trials and that would endure our suffering in faith. St. James says, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life.”[5]

Lastly, we pray in the Seventh Petition that, when our final hour does come, that our Lord would give us a blessed end. When I was little, I used to think this meant that the best way to die is to die in church, or else in prayer. Those wouldn’t be bad; but, what we also pray in this petition is that God our heavenly Father would grant us to remain in the one true faith until death. We pray that He would preserve us from the evil works of the devil and keep us firm in the faith amidst the evils that do happen to us, that we may meet death joyfully and without fear, and so receive the crown of righteousness won for us by Jesus Christ.

II.

            We now turn to the conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer. Let’s speak it together.

For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

What does this mean? This means that I should be certain that these petitions are pleasing to our Father in heaven, and are heard by Him; for He Himself has commanded us to pray in this way and has promised to hear us. Amen, amen means “yes, yes, it shall be so.”[6]

It is true that some ancient copies of the New Testament do not contain these words, including the one that Luther used in writing the Catechism, so this portion was not entirely written by Luther himself. That said, the conclusion has been prayed by the Church at large for 1500 years, and the meaning we spoke dates back to the Reformation, at least. In response to God’s invitation to pray, the Church listens and glorifies God, and ends her prayer with a bold “Amen.”

“Amen” is an old Hebrew word which means, “Yes, it shall be so,” or, “truly, it will be done,” or something similar. It is a confident assertion that things which were said are true and will be done. We end the Prayer in this glad confidence because God has invited us to pray to Him as His own dear children and has promised to hear us. God cannot lie; therefore, we know that our prayers are, indeed, heard. And, not only does God hear our prayers, but He can and does answer them. Our God is the God, the Lord of heaven and earth. By the Word of His mouth all the heavens were made, and by His breath all their host. He is the giver of all good things, who sends rain on the just and unjust alike. And, as our Lord says, if God can so feed the birds and clothe the grass, our Father can also provide for what we need.

And so, we end the prayer right where we began. With the words, “Our Father,” God invites us to pray to Him as dear children would ask their dear fathers. In response to His gracious invitation, we pray that His name would be holy among us, that His kingdom come to us and all the world, that His will be done, that we receive our daily bread with thanksgiving, that we be forgiven our sins and so forgive others, that we be strengthened against temptation, and be defended against the devil and all evil. All these things are good and pleasing to our heavenly Father, and so we gladly say, “amen,” for He will truly do all these things.

St. James said, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.”[7] Let us pray that God the Holy Spirit would continue to work through the Word and Sacraments, that we be strengthened and preserved in the true faith, and that we may gladly and confidently pray to our Father in heaven, who alone is able to do more than we can say or think.


 

[1] http://catechism.cph.org/en/lords-prayer.html

[2] Jn. 16:33, all Bible citations from the English Standard Version.

[3] Acts 14:22.

[4] Prov. 3:11.

[5] James 1:12.

[6] http://catechism.cph.org/en/lords-prayer.html

[7] James 1:5-6.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s