“Deliver Us From Evil”

Before I started my Lutheran confirmation classes, I read the entire Book of Concord and one of the things that really struck me was what Luther said about the last petition of the Lord’s Prayer. In this petition, many English translations read, “but deliver us from evil.” For those who can read Greek, this is what it says in the original language: ἀλλὰ ῥῦσαι ἡμᾶς τοῦ πονηροῦ, which literally translated says, “But rescue [or deliver] us from the evil one.” The adjective “evil” is being used substantively, which would literally make it, “the one who is evil.” As Luther points out, “It seems to be speaking of the evil one as the sum of all evil in order that the entire substance of our prayer may be directed against our arch enemy” (LC, The Lord’s Prayer, 113).

Before, when I would recite the Lord’s Prayer or read it, when I got to the seventh petition I would think of deliverance from evil things of the world in the general sense, but now that I look at the Greek it’s not just those things (for the evil things of the world are Satan’s instruments of evil). Luther says temptation is of three kinds: the flesh, the world, and the Devil (LC, The Lord’s Prayer, 101). Satan uses all these methods as a means to an end to deceive and, as he hopes, to defeat us. Like Luther, it intrigues me that Jesus uses this petition of deliverance from the evil one as the last petition. We are to pray for all the other six petitions, which Luther explains in detail in the rest of his Large Catechism (and the Small Catechism as well), but this one petition in particular is asking to be delivered from Satan specifically.

Praying for such deliverance can deliver us from any of his means—the flesh, the world, and even the Devil himself and his demons. I won’t discuss it at length, but in the past I’ve faced a lot of demon attacks, and so I’ve come to regularly pray for deliverance from Satan and his demons. Every time I do, God never fails to deliver me from the evil one, and the attacks cease until the next time I sense their presence. I don’t recite the Lord’s Prayer like a ritualistic monk, but I pray the petition in my own sincere words, using the Lord’s Prayer as a guideline, and God never fails me.

As Luther describes, “Nevertheless, this petition includes all the evil that may befall us under the devil’s kingdom: poverty, disgrace, death, and, in short, all the tragic misery and heartache, of which there is so incalculably much on earth. For because the devil is not only a liar but a murderer as well [John 8:44], he incessantly seeks our life and vents his anger by causing accidents and injury to our bodies” (LC, The Lord’s Prayer, 115). That’s why we often have to pray to be delivered from the Devil, because his attacks against us are incessant. All the methods Satan uses have the same end goal: our destruction.

Although Satan uses the evil things of the world as a method to bring our lives to an end, since they all derive from him, that is not the only thing we must pray against. We must pray against the evil one himself, “for he is an enemy who never lets up or becomes weary” (LC, The Lord’s Prayer, 109). Therefore, we must be ever vigilant and maintain situational awareness and never take off the armour of God (Ephesians 6:11-18). Pray against all your fleshly temptations, all worldly temptations and tribulations, and ultimately against the Devil himself and his demons.

Christ put this petition last because, “if we are to be protected and delivered from all evil, His name must first be hallowed in us, His kingdom come among us, and His will be done” (LC, The Lord’s Prayer, 118). All Christians face spiritual attacks from the Devil in multiple ways. Because this is never ending, Christ exhorts us to pray as He taught us (Matthew 6:9-13), not as a ritualistic pattern (hence, “Pray like this”), but as a perfect guideline so that we may be delivered from all evil and its master.

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