“I’d like to phone a friend, Regis.” Do you remember when “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire” was a new, national phenomenon? “Phone-a-friend” was one of three “lifelines” a contestant could use when stumped or uncertain as to the answer to a question. (“Ask the audience” was the most reliable source of help it seemed, and “50:50” was the third option.)
Knowing his betrayal and crucifixion lay immediately before him, Jesus urged His disciples to throw out a lifeline: “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation,” he told them, “The spirit is willing, but the body is weak” (Matthew 26:41). I’m guessing Jesus was praying the same thing for Himself, for Luke tells us, “An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him” (Luke 22:43). Jesus prayed, and God provided—answered prayer. And aren’t we glad! Just think of the eternal ripple effects of Jesus’ fortification against temptation that history-hinging night. His sacrificial submission to the Father—“yet not my will, but yours be done”—means life to all who will receive the true life found only in Him.
Praying for strength against temptation is something we do, but probably not as often as we should. I’m not sure why, because it’s not all that difficult. It can be as simple as a sincere, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” What counts is not how flowery our petitions, but how trustworthy God’s promises and how reliable His power. Promises like, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). Or power, as in, “God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
How easy it is to fall into temptation, yet how important not to. So, we “watch and pray”—we “phone a Friend”—for He is our lifeline. A million times over, He is our lifeline. Aren’t we glad!
Father, lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil, today. Provide me a way to stand firm, resisting the evil one until he leaves. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
[Click here to read today’s Scripture in Luke 22:39-46.]