Lord's Prayer--The Seventh Petition

Sermon Text: Matthew 6:13

“...but deliver us from evil.


The last time you went to church did you slump into your pew with your mind reeling from all the things that had been happening in your life and to you? If you did, you are not the only one who has had this experience. When the events in your life had caused you to slump into your pew, I hope the Lord began to lift your spirit with the opening line of the first hymn.

The reason we often slump into our pew at church or into our chair at home is all the bad things which happen around us and to us. We cannot listen to the news or scan the headlines without being confronted with the evil in this world. In our personal lives we suffer the wrongs done to us and the misfortunes of life itself.

We are the dearly beloved children of God. Our being such does not spare us, however, from suffering the evils in this world any more than it spared past generations of Christians. We can sympathize with Lot, for one, who was distressed by the filthy lives and evil deeds of his generation. How we wish to be delivered from all the evils in life. We therefore pray the Seventh Petition of the Lord’s Prayer. It asks to be delivered from present evils and to be taken to heaven.

We ask our Father, “Deliver us from evil.” The Greek word for deliver means to save, to rescue, and to ward off and protect. The word for evil means that which is bad, wicked, degenerate. This petition asks our Father to protect us and to save us from all the bad things which we suffer in the world as a result of sin and its consequences. Luther explained: “In conclusion we pray in this petition that our Father in heaven would deliver us from every evil that threatens body and soul, property and reputation, and finally when our last hour comes, grant us a blessed end and graciously take us from this world of sorrow to himself in heaven.”

With this petition we ask our Father to deliver us from all the bad things we suffer on the road through life to heaven. These bad things attack us physically, spiritually, and emotionally, inflicting injury to our bodies, our minds, our souls, our properties, our good names and reputations. These bad things arise within nature, society, and religion.

No doubt some of us have suffered colds, flu, headaches, sinus infections, or other ailments in the past. Some of us may suffer the aches and pains which come with aging. You mothers have suffered the pains of childbirth. All of us have seen our family members and friends die. We have had storms rip up, tear down, or flood out our homes and property. We have seen volcanoes blow up and burn out vast areas of land as well as the devastation to populated areas that earthquakes have left behind. We have seen insects and pests devour and destroy our gardens and favorite rose bushes or trees. These and whatever other bad things we might name within nature are here because of sin. They make our lives miserable, hard, and frustrating.

What is more, we have had evils inflicted on us by others. Thieves have stolen our property and vandals have defaced it. People have damaged our cars and left the scene. Thugs, murderers, and sexual perverts endanger our lives on the streets. Rioters, revolutionaries, and terrorists overthrow our country’s law and order. Wars and ethnic hatreds snuff out lives and peace. Gossips and slanderers have ruined our reputations. We have suffered the hatred, malice, and wickedness of others. All these bad things exist within our society because of sin. They make our lives miserable, hard, and unpleasant.

Our Christian souls and spirits suffer, too. We are persecuted from within and from without the visible church on earth. We are ridiculed and tormented for our scriptural beliefs. False teachers from within and false prophets from without the church attack our souls with their demonic heresies. These evils arose with the advent of Satan in the Garden of Eden. They also make our lives miserable, hard, and unpleasant.

Acts 14:22 states: “Through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God. Therefore, with longing for a better life which is free of these many evils, we pray, “Dear Father, deliver us from evil.”

Our heavenly Father answers this petition because through Jesus we are his dear children. He cares for us like a father hovering over his youngster to keep him out of harms way. He shields us from evil. Psalm 34:7 says, “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.” The angel of the Lord is the Son of God, our beloved Savior. He surrounds us with his divine protection.

To keep us safe from harm our Father also has his holy angels watch over us. Psalm 91:10-12 state: “No evil will befall you, No calamity will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you, to guard you in all your ways. They will lift you up in the palms of their hands, so you will not strike your foot against a stone. Only the Lord and his angels know for sure how many times his angels have acted to keep us safe from harm and danger.

Our Father is our constant helper. Psalm 121 assures us of this. It says: “1 I will lift up my eyes to the mountains – From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, the Creator of heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to totter; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel Will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; The Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun will not smite you by day, Nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; He will keep your soul. The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in From this time now and forevermore.

Our Father is our invisible partner who works in our behalf. A World War II veteran once told me how the Lord spared his life. I believe he said it was at the Battle of the Bulge. His unit’s position was overrun. When two German soldiers ran up to him with bayonets drawn to kill him, he raised his hands to surrender and shouted in English, not knowing if those German soldiers could even understand him, “I am a Christian.” He said for some reason that was what came to his mind. It just so happened the Lord saw to it those German soldiers were Christians as well, who were able to understand what he said. They spared his life and took him prisoner instead of killing him. In the fire of battle their hearts were touched with compassion for another Christian, even if he was an enemy soldier.

We are hurt at times by the evil in this world. But our Father mercifully turns that evil into good for us. Romans 8:28 assures us, “And we know that God works all things for good for those who love him, for those who are the called ones according to his will.” You yourself may possibly have gone through some terrible trouble. Later you were able to see how the experience had changed your life for the better. I know this has happened to me.

While we are suffering those difficult times of life, our Father’s Word of promise strengthens us with hope, so we are able to endure them. He holds out this hope to us: “It won’t always be like this. A better time and life are coming. Just hold on to me and I will deliver you. I will take you to heaven.”

He will take us to heaven, because Jesus paid for our sins with his innocent death and gained for us the forgiveness of our sins. As a result of Jesus’ death in our behalf, we are the forgiven children of God and heirs of heaven.

For the new and better life in heaven we pray when we say, “Deliver us from evil.” We are asking our Father to take us out of all the evil in this world and the suffering it causes us to be with him in heaven. Luther was right in saying death is a blessing of God, for through death we leave behind our sinful natures and all the evil we suffer now.

Our Father has told us in 1 Corinthians 15 that our present flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. Like a lifeless seed is sown in the ground to rise up to a new life, so our present bodies must be laid to rest in death so they can rise up to a new life. Our present perishable, mortal bodies must become imperishable and immortal through death to enter life. Thus death for us Christians is a blessing of God.

Now we may think it strange to pray for death, for after all who wants to die? But it is not a strange prayer. Even Paul stated in Philippians 1:21-23 that he looked forward to death. He wrote:  For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this means more fruitful work for me. And what I shall choose, I do not know. Moreover, I am hard pressed from the two possibilities, having the desire to depart and to be with Christ, for this is much better by far.” Paul also wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:6-8: “Therefore being confident at all times, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord – for we walk by faith not by sight – we are, then, of good courage, and we prefer rather to depart from the body and to be at home with the Lord.

Christians do look forward to death as the means to eternal life. On numerous occasions in the past Christians have told me they wished the Lord would let them die and would take them home to heaven. You may hear a sick and suffering family member talk about praying to die. Do not become upset by this. For us Christians death is a blessing, which delivers us once and for all from all evil and gives us a blessed eternity. We all pray for such a blessed death in this petition. We all ask to be taken to heaven. So when a Christian loved one does die, let us be happy for him. His prayer has been answered. The days of his suffering evil are over and he is at home with the Lord which is much better by far.

In this life we suffer the evils of this world. But we are not without hope. While we travel on our journey through life to heaven, our Father and his angels watch over us. At the end of our life’s journey we will be delivered from all evil and reach our heavenly home. We long for this, for Revelation 21:3, 4 tell us: “The tabernacle of God is among men, and he will dwell among them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be among them, and will be their God. And he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death, nor will there be any more mourning or crying or pain; because these earlier things have passed away.”

So shall it be and for such we pray. Amen.