Rabid Fun

John Cowart's Daily Journal: A befuddled ordinary Christian looks for spiritual realities in day to day living.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

“Don’t Let” Prayers—Thoughts For Felisol

The other night after Ginny and I visited the library, we sat in the park across the street talking and she began laughing. “I prayed the most ridiculous thing in the library,” she said.

“I was looking for a specific book and as I walked along all those yards and yards of shelves, I prayed, “Dear Lord, don’t let my book be on a bottom shelf because my knees feel so stiff that if I get down there I won’t be able to stand back up again’”.

We laughed about the fact that the prayers of us old folks are different from the prayers of young people.

But, are they?

Doesn’t everyone pray “Don’t let” prayers?

Dear Lord, don’t let me run out of gas before I get to the station.

Dear Lord, don’t let the check I wrote get to the bank before my deposit clears.

Dear Lord, my teenager is driving again tonight. Please don’t let her get hurt or hurt anybody else.

Dear Lord, please don’t let that be the last Pamper in the package!

Dear Lord, don’t let the biopsy show cancer.

Dear Lord, don’t let me be lead astray.

Deal Lord, please don’t let the bus leave till I get to the stop.

Dear Lord, don’t let her give us that test on intransitive verbs today. I haven’t studied for it.

Deal Lord, don’t let the kids wake up tonight of all nights; I’ve already poured the wine and put on the mood music. Keep ‘em asleep. Keep ‘em asleep. Please keep ‘em asleep! Don’t ‘em wake up!

Dear Lord, don’t let…

When Ginny and I got home from the library last night, I found an e-mail question from Felisol, a lady in Norway who takes magnificent photos of ancient churches. She said:

DEar John C,

I have a question, passed to me yesterday, by my girl friend for 55 years.

"How come we have to pray lead us not into temptation. Can GOd willfully do that to his beloved children. Why do we have to pray it over and over again in Our Lord's Prayer?"

I think it kind of touches your mosquito answer, but not entirely. Problem is, my friend she's in great pain, she's lived a life of a tormented saint, by just now I feel I have to come up with an answer, I do not posses.

I'm turning to you, and will return, to see if you can help me.

From Felisol

I’m so sorry the unnamed lady is in pain, feeling tormented, and troubled about that phrase from the Lord’s Prayer. Sounds as though she has a heavy load to carry. I’m glad she has Felisol for a friend to care about her.

I asked Felisol for a little time to think about this.

I’m the worse person on earth to ask about temptation. I doubt if I’ve ever been tempted to do anything that I haven’t eventually done it. So I’m hardly qualified to address this question, but I’m the one she asked, so here goes:

First, God never tempts us to do evil.

The Apostle James said, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither he tempteth any man. But every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed”.

So, what does the Lord’s Prayer actually say:

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Whenever I’m interested in some problem concerning the Scripture, I turn to the best Bible study tool I know of—the common ordinary dictionary on the corner of my desk. What is the definition of temptation?

The first of several definitions my dictionary lists is test—an adversity, affliction, trouble: sent by God and serving to test or prove one's character, faith, or holiness.

In that light, when I beg God “don’t let me be tempted”, I’m admitting my utter weakness. I don’t think I can stand being tested. I think I’ll fail the test.

Sometimes God lets me avoid the test; sometimes He doesn’t.

Testing me shows God nothing He didn’t already know. He is, after all, omniscient. So, if the test does not prove anything to God, what’s the purpose of it?

It proves something to me.

It shows me that in my weakness, I can function in His strength.

Paul said, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as in common to man: but God is faithful who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it”.

Another definition of temptation my dictionary offers is: A cause or occasion of enticement.

I think of Mrs. Job.

Mrs. Job lost her children; Mr. Job lost those same children.

Mrs. Job lost cattle; Mr. Job lost those same cows.

Mrs. Job lost camels, crops, mules, donkeys, home, security—she lost everything that Job lost.

Both suffered alike, God sent their troubles, through the devil, as a testing, as an occasion to react.

Job said, Shall we receive good at the hand of the Lord and not the evil?

Mrs. Job yelled at him, Curse God and die!

She was in no mood for philosophy or positive thinking; she’d lost her children and she stood for no pious nonsense from the old man or his buddies.

However, notice that at the end of the Book of Job, she received the same rewards that he did.

James said, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him”.


That’s hard for me to see. And Mrs. Job didn’t see much joy in the situation ether. She endured their temptation in an altogether different manner from her husband, but when all was said and done, “In all the land were no women found so fair as the daughters of Job; and their father gave them inheritance among their brethren”.

Mrs. Job’s daughters, her pride and joy after all the tribulation, fairest in the land, equal to their brothers—a reward for having endured temptation.

I’ll bet Mrs. Job beamed.

Concerning temptation my dictionary also says:

To lead astray from one’s true course; Tempt implies the presenting of an attraction so strong that it overcomes the restraints of conscience or better judgment. Seduce implies a leading astray by persuasion or false promises. Lure an inducement to pleasure or gain; a decoy for attracting animals to capture, an artificial bait used for catching fish.

I think one reason we are to beg God to don’t let us be tempted is because we never know what life is bringing at us next.

In the Gethsemane, the olive garden of prayer, Jesus “said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation”.


Peaceful garden of prayer in the cool of the evening.

Good place for a nap.

What could happen?

And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

And when he rose up from prayer and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow. And said unto them, Why sleep ye? Rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.

And while he yet spake, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them and drew near unto Jesus to kiss him.

Yes, we can not foresee the future. A truck may be rounding the corner. The ringing phone may be the State Lottery Board letting you know you’ve won millions, or the State Highway Patrol regretting to inform you about the accident.

I think that when I pray “Lead me not into temptation” I’m acknowledging my position and God’s. I appear before His majesty as a beggar, a supplicant, powerless, weak, afraid of being diverted from my purpose in life, leery of being led astray, of screwing up, of falling for false promises. I admit I am gullible and that I don’t think I can take any more. I admit I’m attracted to evil, that my judgment is skewed , that my heart is weak.

Thus I pray, “Dear Lord, don’t let me be tempted”.

My dictionary further relates temptation to “the desire to have or do something that you know you should avoid; bait: something used to lure fish or other animals into danger so they can be trapped or killed”.

Sportsmen regard my home state, Florida, as the fishing capital of the world. Our waters abound in trout, red bass, large-mouth bass, marlin, cobia, king fish…

Sport fishermen tempt the fish with lures, an artificial bait with treble hooks to snag the fish, drag him from the water, let him flap out his life on the deck, filet him to devour, or skin him to stuff as a trophy.

When I pray “lead me not into temptation”, I’m praying that I will recognize the false promise of the many lures in the water.

I’m praying, “Dear Lord, don’t let me take the bait”.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 4:36 AM


At 6:36 AM, Blogger Felisol said...

Dear John C,
It is all so easy when one is allowed to take a peak an the answer.
I'll have to read your post several times before calling my friend.
She is in such agony, my heart almost burst.
Now I think I have a a non judging, reasonable explanation to sothe her aching heart.

I do like Paul; send my brother, John C, a holy kiss.
Thank you so much for taking this challenge.
I've got a whole lot of praying to do, hoping I'll be able to translate your good answer to Norwegian.
From Felisol

At 8:04 AM, Blogger sherri said...

Very insightful. I Appreciate it.

At 9:22 AM, Anonymous Carolyn T. said...

Good words on temptation. But the thing about Job that bothers so many of my friends is the assumption that the original children could be replaced by those given as a reward. The firstborns were still dead - no? I assume Mrs. Job continued to mourn them in spite of being joyful with the new brood. Restoration always seems to come with some degree of sadness for what was lost or what could have been.

At 9:22 PM, Blogger Terry said...

dear john...it is such a great thing to have felisol on your team.
a few nights ago, my back and my whole body was in such pain in the small hours of the morning here in southern ontario and so i wrote my felisol...she prayed for me and it has been three days or more that the pain has subsided.
prayers are more effective them pills, eh?
this was such a nice post here....from terry

ps.. i am going to visit your blog again...just as soon as i get caught up with felisol and amrita...i have been sorely behind in reading their blogs!

At 12:46 PM, Blogger Amrita said...

Thank you for this, together with Felisol and her friend I have been here.


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