By Rodney Marsh —
The Lord’s Prayer “And do not bring us to the time of trial….”
A crisis seems to be rapidly developing in the Western democracies. At the recent Garma Festival, Richard Flanagan said, “The world is being undone before us. History is once more moving, and it is moving to fragmentation on the basis of concocted differences…….. The bonfire of our vanities is fully loaded with the fuel of growing inequality, fear and division.” I hear the ‘ring of truth’ in his prophecy.
In his day, Jesus often spoke of an imminent, destructive, worldwide crisis or trial. So, when Jesus taught his followers to ask our Father, “Lead us not into trial”, he meant, “don’t, please God don’t push us into the time of crisis before you’ve made us ready for it. Don’t push us until you’ve given us what we need to face it.” (Rowan Williams). Our daily prayer, “…do not bring us to the time of trial” is not therefore, motivated by the desire to avoid inevitable suffering nor is it a desperate plea filled with fear, rather it is a request for courage to face what is coming. It is a prayer made in faith that our Father will see us through whatever is ahead.
When we teach our children to pray, “do not bring us to the time of trial” we are joining with them to travel together through dark valleys and well as the light plains. We face, with confidence, the unforeseen, and often uncontrollable, frightening circumstances of our lives because we know we never travel alone. As the storm clouds were gathering around Jesus, his own daily prayer was “do not bring us to the time of trial”. Consequently Jesus became strong to face what was to come and he told his followers, “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, You will soon be set free.” Perhaps, when a coming firestorm fuelled with “growing inequality, fear and division” can be seen approaching us, and our nation, it is the time to teach our children to pray, “do not bring us to the time of trial” in faith and hope.
Prayer: Our Father, it seems there are storms ahead today. Please let the storm pass, but if it does not, stay with us. In the storm, strengthen us. Grant faith to replace fear. Then enable us to stand up, and lift our heads to welcome our freedom. Amen.
PS We should note that, in context, the word Jesus uses for “the time of trial” does not mean a “temptation”, as in the traditional version of the Lord’s Prayer meaning to be tempted to do something morally wrong. It means rather “crisis” or “trial” such as Jesus experienced in Garden of Gethsemane.