Lead us not into temptation. Luke 11:4
I was enticed into the evil and misery of addiction simply by my own broken appetite. Living for my impulsive desires eventually led me to saying yes to one pill, which led to thousands, which lead to massive destruction. I didn’t start out pursuing disaster though. Evil is tempting because it tastes good at first, providing instant gratification. I wouldn’t be very tempted by evil if it was instantly painful. I pursue evil because it feels good.
In recovery then, I’ve desperately needed something new to follow. Following my appetite has led to calamity, so now I must pursue something radically different. As a Christian, I believe the only adequate solution for this problem is God. Daily then, I offer this prayer, God, save me from myself. As I abandon me to follow you, change my appetites so that I want what is good and right more than I want my destructive desires.
Jesus taught his disciples something similar. In his instruction on prayer, he included this short phrase. Lead us not into temptation. At first glance, the prayer seems to suggest that the disciple might need to be concerned that God will tempt him, making it necessary to ask God not to do so. God isn’t the one who entices us to evil though.
The meaning of the phrase, I think, is more like my daily prayer. God, I desperately need to follow you. Following me has tempted me to great evil. In following you, please lead me in the opposite direction. Lead me away and protect me from the disaster of me. Transform me, making me want your way more than I want mine.
Though God doesn’t entice us to evil, there are other forces that would use our destructive desires to tempt us. As I follow God, he leads me away from those things that would harm me. If I’m an alcoholic bartender, he will likely instruct me to find a new job. If I’m a physician struggling with access to pills, he will lead me to a place where I don’t face overwhelming temptation.
In following ourselves, we bask in the temptation to pursue our self-destructive desires. In following God, he protects us from that which would destroy us, leading away from death and misery to find true faith, life, and recovery.