I received the following question via the 'ask the pastor' site.
In Luke 11:4, "And lead us not into temptation". I am inquiring as to why the text is suggesting such a thing when clearly as christians it is understood that God does not tempt or "lead" us but rather Satan or our own sinful nature brings us into that place, yet Jesus says this is how we should pray to the Father? Please explain. Thank you
Clearly, God does not tempt anyone (James 1.13-15) but he does test us (Gen 22.1). While the determination of our occassions to sin is always the impurity of our hearts, or as Paul called it 'sin in us' (See Rom 7.21-25), circumstances play a big role. The glutton has no business in the bakery. This is a prayer that God would not lead us into circumstances that would put us in the place of temptation. It might be easier for the person with the penchant for gluttony to work in a steel mill. Perhaps there is less temptation there. This section of this prayer is a plea for God to be sensitive to the weakness of our flesh while he is directing our lives.
Some commentators say this is a rhetorical device used to show that God has the power to prevent us from falling into sin and so it is a plea for protection.
So, in summary, I would see this as a plea for sensitivity to our weakness (under the right circumstances I will fail you, Lord!)and a request for protection fo the most valuable commodity in our lives- our relationship with God. As one writer put it, "Such constant (daily) spiritual inventory serves us preventative care of the soul."