Desiring God: The Prayer of Protection

Desiring God: The Prayer of Protection

Opening Illustration:
One of the most inspirational stories that I have ever come across is the story of Joni Erickson Tada. Joni is a world renowned writer and speaker.  She is a Christian.  However, life has not always been easy for her.  As a child, Joni went swimming, as most children do.  She dove head first into the Chesapeake Bay.  Unfortunately, she misjudged the depth.  When she dove it, it immediately and terminally paralyzed her.  She is now a quadriplegic.  

For years, she was bitter and angry at God. She endured therapy and numerous surgeries.  She watched other kids growing up and going where they wanted while she languished in a wheel chair.  One day, a friend of hers pointed out that Jesus too was paralyzed.  Jesus was unable to move, unable to reposition Himself on the cross.  It was the nails that paralyzed Jesus.  He knew what it felt to be paralyzed.  

Tada remembered the moment of this realization saying, “God became incredibly close to me and eventually I understood that He loves me. I had no other identity but God, and gradually He became enough,” stated Joni. “I prayed for healing and truly believed it would come. The Bible speaks of our bodies’ being glorified’. Now I realize I will be healed; I’m just going through a forty or fifty year delay, and God stays with me even through that.”

You see friends, that’s the genius of prayer.  When we pray, as Joni Erickson Tada, we receive strength to carry on.  Sure, life is hard.  However, when we pray, it is like receiving gasoline for our soul.  It keeps us going.  Prayer also reminds us that we are not in control.  God is in control and He is so much more capable of managing our lives than we are.  We can trust Him.  He holds our future in His hands and His plans are so much better than our own.  

Remember, seeking God in prayer provides strength and security. 

Seeking God In Prayer Provides Strength and Security!

Over the past several weeks, we have been looking at the subject of prayer.  We has seen that prayer is not something that we get to do, it is something that we are commanded to do. 

We discover that there is a tremendous reward for praying.

We discover that when we are obedient to God, that we literally pull heaven down to earth.  

We discover that God knows our needs and desires to meet those needs.  

We learn that if Jesus can forgive, so can we. There is great value in forgiveness.  

Today we will look at how, through prayer, we can overcome temptation.  We will also see how God rescues us from Satan. 

So, let’s read from Matthew 6:9-13 ESV. 

Matthew 6:9-13 ESV
9 Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. 10 May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today the food we need, 12 and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. 13 And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.

Jesus’ Prayer Is Our Prescription!

I. Ask God For A Shield vs. 13
 And don’t let us yield to temptation…”

One day little Richard was told by his mother to come straight home after school and not stop at the baseball field.  As he was walking out the door, his mother noticed that he had packed his ball and glove.  She asked why he was carrying those things when she had specifically asked him not to stop at the park and play baseball.  Richard said “Well Mom, I am not planning on stopping by the park, but I want to be prepared if I am tempted.”

Oh friends, temptation is a real thing isn’t it.  Instead of being prepared to fall into temptation, we need to be looking for ways to stay out of temptation.  

I like the way that the ESV translated this piece of Scripture.  “And do not let us YIELD to temptation…”. I choose this translation because I have never liked the typical version of “and lead us not into temptation”.  I believe that this has been translated incorrectly.  It is not my believe that God leads us headlong into temptation. I believe that God allows us to be tested, to be tried, but God is not the author of temptation.  God is the source for us to find our way out of temptation, not into it.  

Let me prove this point to you.  First, let me read from I Corinthians 10:13.  God does not let us be tempted beyond what we can say “no” to.  Actually, God provides numerous opportunities for us to back out of temptation. 

I Corinthians 10:13 ESV
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

The author of Hebrews tells us that because of Jesus was tempted.  Jesus overcame temptation.  Because of Him, we have help to overcome temptation ourselves. 

Hebrews 2:18 ESV
For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Again, temptation does not come from God. It comes from us.  It comes from sin.  It is our own sinful nature that pulls us towards sin.  Listen to James 1:14.

James 1:14 ESV
But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.

Again, God does not tempt people.  It is not who He is and it is not His nature.  Go one verse up from James 1:14 to James 1:13.

James 1:13 ESV
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.

Word Study:
So, my belief is that the ESV has it right.  “And let us not yield to temptation.”, not “And lead us not into temptation” because God does not lead anyone into temptation. 

However, when you look at the original Greek, you discover the true meaning behind the word “yield”.  The Greek word for “yield” is εἴκω and is pronounced i'-ko.  It means to give way or to yield.  It also means to give place to something or to be weak.  So, what Jesus is really saying is “Lord, help me not give a place to temptation.  Help me stay strong when temptation is present.”

How many of us today have given a place to temptation?  I know that I have done it more times that I can count.  We carve out little areas of our life and reserve those spots for the temptations that we enjoy.  We often tell ourselves that giving in to this temptations are not a big deal. It can be food, it can be alcohol, it can even be sexual in nature.   We all are tempted. When we pray, we should ask God daily to help us root out those things that tempt us and discard them.  

Turn in your Bibles to Ephesians 6, specifically verse 16.  The apostle Paul compares the temptations devised by the Devil to arrows.  The Devil shoots his arrows at us hoping to strike us, hurt us and damage us.  

Paul tells us that that God has devised a defense against the Devil and his arrows. God has given us the Shield of Faith.  That Shield is deployed when we pray.  When we pray, we don’t just ask God to keep temptation out, we ask God to deploy weaponry to actually defend ourselves.  

So Pray!

Ephesians 6:16 ESV
In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.

Jesus’ Prayer Is Our Prescription!

I. Ask God For A Shield vs. 13
II. Ask God For A Salvation vs. 13
Matthew 6:13 ESV
And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us…

How many of you remember the story of Petty Officer Bernard Webber?  Webber was the Captain of the greatest small boat rescue mission in United States History.  Hollywood has since made a movie about his heroism entitled “Our Finest Hours”. Webber, along with three other volunteers, rescued 36 men from two boats caught in a freezing storm off the shore of Massachusetts.  One of the boats, the Pendleton, had split in two because of the weather conditions.  Even though their boat had reached capacity, it was Officer Webber who made the heroic decision that no one would be left behind.  The weather conditions were so treacherous, Webber’s boat had been rendered without navigation.  Somehow, against the odds, Webber managed to steer his boat, with all the crew and passengers, back to the mainland.  Webber was hailed as a hero and his mission became the first successful mission in United States Coast Guard history. 

Some might say that was one of the greatest rescue missions in history.  However, I believe that there is an even greater rescue mission that took place some 2000 years ago.  It is the story of God becoming man.  God sent Jesus into the world to save the world.  Quite literally, God tossed us a lifesaver in the midst of the storm of sin that was set to destroy us.  If we grab on to God’s life’s preserver, we can be saved.  Even the Bible claims that Jesus came into the world to save us, the greatest rescue mission ever. 

John 3:17 NIV
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

Devotional Quote By Rick Warren
Rick Warren is one of my favorite pastors/preachers.  I read his devotions each and every day because I love how he delivers God’s truth.  Warren also believes that Jesus coming to earth was the greatest rescue missions ever.  

You can’t solve all of your problems. If you could, you would have by now. You’ve probably tried over and over again to solve them, but it’ll take more than you to solve all of your problems.

You need a savior, a rescuer. God sent us a rescuer for the very first Christmas. Every person on the planet is enslaved to sin. The Christmas story is history’s ultimate rescue mission. Jesus came to Earth to set us free from the sin that enslaves us.

You see, some problems in our lives can’t be solved by trying harder but only by trusting in Jesus more.

If you trust Jesus, he will set you free. He will rescue you from whatever dominates you. It’s why he came. From what do you need to be set free? Maybe it’s the expectations of others, whether it’s a spouse, your parents, your co-workers, or someone else. You can’t be who you were made to be when you are living for everyone else.

Maybe it’s shame, regret, or bitterness that you need to be set free from. Jesus came to rescue you. You can’t overcome it on your own.

Listen to the powerful verse that illustrates Jesus’ ability to save us…to rescue us. 

Psalm 50:15 NIV
”Call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.” 

Jesus knew that our greatest need is rescue.  We need to be rescued from temptation. We need to be rescued from sin.  We need to be rescued from hell.  Friends, there is nothing at all wrong for asking God to save us.  Sure, He has ultimately saved our souls from wrath, but there is nothing wrong to ask God to save you from all of the aforementioned problems.  Sin.  Temptation. Satan. Lord we need saving.  

By the way, the Greek word that Jesus is using for “rescue” actually means to “snatch up”.  It is a word picture.  Just as we are about to go under, when we have no more hope, Jesus steps in and snatches us up.  He saves us.  

When you pray, do you pray that Jesus snatch you up from sin, Satan, temptation, hardship, death, and destruction?  We should.  It is not selfish to make that request. Jesus gives us permission through is prayer to ask God to save our goose! 

Jesus’ Prayer Is Our Prescription!

I. Ask God For A Shield vs. 13
II. Ask God For A Salvation vs. 13
III. Ask God For Shrewdness vs. 13
Matthew 6:13 ESV
And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.

You know, some of the most intriguing people in our country serve in our military.  I think that some of the most interesting people in our military are U.S. Army Snipers.  These are men and women who are sent in to dangerous territories, often times behind enemy lines, to take out others who might do harm to the United States and her citizens.  So, these snipers, don’t just have to be good shots, they also have to be great at hiding.  

I got online a couple of weeks ago and looked for pictures that contain US snipers.  They are hiding of course.  I want to see if you can spot them.  Let’s play a game this morning.  

Now here is a picture.  (Sniper Spot 1) 

Can you find the sniper?
Ok, here he is! (Sniper Spot 2)

Ok, that one was easy.  See if you can see the sniper in this picture. (Sniper Spot 3)

Got it?
See him?
Ok, here he is! (Sniper Spot 4)

Now whats the job of the sniper? He is to bring death correct?  The sniper sits from a far off distance, away from our vision, and picks people off.  Well friends the Devil is even more crafty.  Many times we never see him coming.  Jesus knew that we better pray for rescue from Satan because Satan is dangerous.  More dangerous than a sniper.  

Now there are a lot of preachers out there that do not like to talk about Satan.  There is even a wind of heretical theology that is trying to prove that Satan is not a real entity.  They are trying to say that Satan is more of an allegory.  He is a symbol of our evil human nature.  

Well, let’s talk about the Devil for a second.  Preacher, do you believe that the Devil is a real, living, breath, entity?  

The answer is absolutely YES!  

As a matter of fact, there are lots of different names for Satan.  

The following are names of Satan and aliases he uses:

Satan is a deceiver.  He is a liar.  He is a schemer.  He comes only to steal, kill and destroy.  So, when we are discussing Satan, why do we need to be shrewd?  Why do we need wisdom?  The reason why is because Satan is so hard to detect.  He ways are so shrouded in secrecy.  Often times, the Devil uses tricks that seem to ok but eventually cause us to choose the wrong path.  It is good to know that we need to be rescued, but often times we never see our demise coming because Satan is so good.  

For instance, we often pictures Satan in our minds looking foreboding (Bad Satan Picture), red, surrounded by flames, horns on his head, with a pitchfork.  Those are popularized images of him, but that is not at all what he looks like.  Honestly, if Satan presented himself that way in the real world, not many of us would follow him would we?  Of course not.  

The Bible actually tells us what Satan looks like.  

The Bible tells us in I Corinthians 11:14 that Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.  Satan, we need to remember, is an angel.  A fallen angel, a demon, but nevertheless an angel.  What is even more troubling is that his followers are disguised as righteous workers of God, or even apostles of Jesus Christ.  They are what we would call false teachers and they are very hard to distinguish from the real thing.  Lucifer, or Satan, is another name for “The Day Star”.  Isaiah’s description of Satan in Isaiah 14:12-18 gives us the image that Satan, is well, beautiful.  Ezekiel, in Ezekiel 28, tells us that Satan was a guardian cherub.  He was a guardian angel before his fall.  

Now, if you think of Satan in those terms, an angel, a cherub, a powerful being shining light, you can see now why more people follow him.  Satan is dangerous.  Trust me, we need lots and lots of help spotting him.  

Im not sure who this quote is attributed to, but I thought it valuable for us this morning. Again, Satan is a master of disguise who wants to tear everything of God down.  That means that he wants to tear you down, your family and even the church.  

“Satan is not fighting churches, he is joining them. He does more harm by sowing tares that by pulling up wheat. He accomplishes more by imitation than by outright opposition.”

That is so true.  We need to pray daily that God protect us, rescue us, from the plans of Satan.  

When is the last time you asked God to guard you in your prayers?

James 4:7 NiV
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

So, lets pause this morning and do just that.  Let us go before the throne of grace and request that God give us the strength to stand against temptation, that He rescue us, and that he gives us wisdom to spot Satan even though he may be disguised. 

Let’s Pray!

Don’t Delay, Pray!


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