We are preparing for a new teaching series with the graceway community that will focus on prayer. In doing so, I have been spending significant time studying the Lord's Prayer. I figure if we want to begin a conversation about prayer we should start by looking at how Jesus responds when his closest followers ask him to teach them to pray (see Matthew 6 and Luke 11). In the Lord's Prayer Jesus instructs his disciples to pray, "deliver us from the evil one." Some translations choose not to "personify" evil, IE: they instead say, "deliver us from evil," but from the original text the more accurate translation is "evil one." For scholarly types, here is a note from the NET Bible that might help:
"The term πονηροῦ (ponhrou) may be understood as specific and personified, referring to the devil, or possibly as a general reference to evil. It is most likely personified since it is articular (τοῦ πονηροῦ, tou ponhrou)."
Anyway, in my study this week I came across the following quote:It's interesting that Jesus does not teach us to pray, "End evil," or "Rid the world of evildoers," but "deliver us from the evil one." Suffering is the inevitable plight of Christians who are disturbed by the discomfort of their neighbors. And Jesus knew all too well that the way of the cross is not the way of safety and comfort. For Jesus and nearly all of his disciples, it meant horrific suffering and martyrdom. Jesus did not rid the world of evil, nor was he delivered from evil. Instead, Jesus was handed over to evil that he might deliver us. Evil seemed to triumph at the cross, but evil did not have the final word. God raised Jesus from the dead. — Shane Claiborne and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove in Becoming the Answer To Our Prayers — Prayers for Ordinary Radicals.
Given the current struggles/crisis of faith of many of my friends, I found this to provide some helpful insight.
Lord, deliver us from the evil one. Remind us of your triumph on the cross!