This Sunday we will look at “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”.
I am used to the idea of a real devil, real evil, and temptation. I grew up in Oklahoma, my sisters once claimed Satan was in the back yard hiding behind a tree. I didn’t believe them, but I also didn’t believe that this was an impossibility. Just highly unlikely. The devil, if he exists, can only be in one place at any one time. 🙂
To pray this way reminds us of the Good News – that Jesus came and defeated death and evil. But, it also reminds us that we live in a time where we still need additional help and protection because the presence of evil still lurks.
Typically I defend the reality of evil with reference to most stories we enjoy, write, watch, read: we expect a villain. The hero is tempted to team up with the villain (for various reasons). The villain appears destined to win, but loses (in most movies not called Cabin in the Wood or Empire Strikes Back).
Another way: Jesus believed in a real devil, spoke to Him, was tempted by Him.
Another way: most of the things we think of as evil are really fine in and of themselves, but were corrupted.
At the same time, I don’t have to spend too much time defending the reality of evil because that isn’t what Jesus did here. And because most people don’t need much convincing because they know themselves and are regularly hurt by others. Jesus taught (and at other times, modeling) prayer that begs for protection from evil. For help seeing that sin is worse than suffering. For strength regarding both.