This is the sixth blog in the series on The Lord’s Prayer. The previous blogs are Rediscovering the Power of The Lord’s Prayer, Our Father in Heaven, May Your Name Be Sanctified, May your Kingdom come Your Will Be Done, Give Us Our Daily Bread, and Forgive Us the Debt of Our Sins. Now we will continue to the sixth line of the prayer:
Do not bring us into the hands of a test.
Comments and Cultural Insights
1. Most English translations have – “lead us not into temptation,” but the Hebrew words Jesus spoke actually mean – “do not bring us into the hands of a test.”1
2. The Greek word used in New Testament manuscripts may be translated as either “temptation” or “test.” In the New Testament it usually means “test” -- The Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test Jesus they asked him to show them a sign from heaven.2 They were not trying to temp Jesus, they were trying to test him. This is exactly the meaning that is found in the Peshitta, the ancient Aramaic version of the New Testament used by the Church of the East.3
3. The words “do not bring us into the hands of test” have a strong connection to Jewish sources -- the same words appear in the Talmud -- Do not bring me into the hands of sin, or into the hands of test, or into the hands of shame.4
4. To this day, many Jews still recite the words above every morning in their daily devotions.5
Making the words of The Lord’s Prayer a Reality in Our Lives
This concept first appears in Proverbs 30 in a prayer of a little-known Israelite sage, Agur bin Yakeh:
Two things I ask from you, do not deny me them before I die. Distance from me lies and falsehood; do not make me rich or poor, but give me my allotted bread. Lest I be satisfied and deny saying, “Who is Yahweh?” and lest I become poor and steal and swear [falsely] in the name of my God.6
We can learn some valuable insights from this proverb.
1. Agur understood that God often tests people in one of two ways – by making them rich or by making them poor.
2. Agur was fearful that he would not be able to pass either test.
3. Agur asked God not to test him with great wealth or great poverty -- but to give him the bread he needed to survive.7
Being aware that wealth and poverty may be tests reminds us of the ways that money and property may affect human life – and lives.
1. Consider the ways that great wealth affects lives.
2. Consider how you could affect lives if you controlled great wealth.
3. Consider the ways great poverty affects lives.
4. Consider how you could affect lives if you lived in great poverty.
5. Be aware of how people you encounter in the normal course of life are affected by their economic status.
When you pray the line of The Lord’s Prayer – “Give us our daily bread” – remember Agur’s request to God.
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1 A Prayer to Our Father: Hebrew Origins of the Lord’s Prayer by Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson, © 2009; p. 153.
2 Matthew 16:1.
3 A Prayer to Our Father; p. 153.
4 Babylonian Talmud, Berakhot 60b.
5 A Prayer to Our Father; p. 157.
6 Proverbs 30:7-9.
7 A Prayer to Our Father; p. 158.