“And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Mt 6:13).
Whatever does this mean? Is God in the habit of leading us into temptation? Doesn’t Scripture say, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone” (Jas 1:13)? True. But there are occasions—as with Job in the OT and Peter in the NT—where the Lord allows “the evil one” to run the refinery (“I shall come forth as gold,” Job 23:10) or the threshingfloor (“that he may sift you as wheat,” Lk 22:31). Nonetheless, He puts limits on the devil, who cannot take our life or wreck our faith. In fact, unwittingly, Satan ends up doing the will of God—no glory to him, for his intention is just the opposite.
But timing is crucial. This instruction by our Good Shepherd is intended to keep anyone from praying the opposite: Lord, bring it on! No! Let Him oversee engagements with the foe, so we are both developed through them and then delivered from them.