Here are two great questions to ask yourself and think about:
- How does one reconcile God’s use of Satan and suffering in the sanctification process with Jesus request to avoid the “Evil One”?
- Is it pleasing to God and profitable to the soul to pray to be spared the onslaught of Satan like that which Job faced?
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” [“evil one” is preferred over simply “evil” even though noun is technically ambiguous].
Jesus, through synonymous parallelism, is asking God to keep us from the “onslaught of the evil one” (Sproul, Knowing Scripture, 87; cf. Carson, Matthew, 174). The term “temptation” has a range of meaning, from “testing” to “enticement to sin.” Here, the idea is in parallelism with “evil one.” Thus, Jesus is teaching us to bequest God to not ordain (“lead” is active voice, not passive; thus the passive “allow” is less desirable than the active “ordain”) Satan’s full assault on our souls.
That being said, can one rejoice in trials (cf. Jas 1:2-4; Rom 5:3-5) AND pray to avoid those trials?
I think the answer is yes…with a qualification. The first, and thus ultimate, prayer is that God be glorified (that His name be hallowed; that His kingdom come), the second, or penultimate, prayer is that we please/honor/obey Him in sanctification (mortifying sin and magnifying the Savior), then we can ask that the above two be accomplished apart from full exposure to the Devil…but not our will, but God’s be done (cf. Matt 26:39). If one prays and wants the first two, they can have joy even if the third is denied.
It is possible, however, to pray for the last (escape from Satan) without the former (God’s glory, my godliness) that becomes idolatry. “Sinful cravings often masquerade as expectations, goals, felt needs, wishes, demands, longings, drives and so forth” (Powlison, Seeing with New Eyes, 149).
The way one will know whether their desire has become an idol is if God does allow Satan to harass and in response God’s goodness or greatness is questioned. The clamoring often reveals that what the soul really wanted was not God’s name to be hallowed, but their life to be pain-free.
Please God…pray that God’s name be revered—always. Then humbly ask for God’s glory to be reflected in a life of peace (cf. 1 Tim 2:2) safe from the Evil One (Matt 6:13) all the while trusting that if God deems the need of Satan to hurt and harass it MUST be for God’s glory and our good (cf. Rom 8:28-29) and that we must draw to God in faith and repentance during the testing (cf. Jam 4:7-10; 1 Pet 5:8-10).
10,000 Blessings in The Wonderful Counselor,
Rod and Staff Ministries