Across My Desk: Trial or Temptation?

Across My Desk: Trial or Temptation?

One of the privileges I have in the course of my week is receiving notes or emails or having conversations with the people of our church family that stimulates my thinking and helps me be a ‘life long learner’. So I thought I would start a regular article called ‘across my desk’ with the aim of sharing some thinking on a topic of ‘applied theology’ or  something I am reading that has relevance to the practice of church or ministry or Christian living. Often you might discover that I don’t have a definite answer, but you may be interested in my ‘thinking journey’ and indeed you may have some thoughts that you might add as a piece of the jigsaw puzzle. So this month…

Trial or Temptation

When I was growing up we would pray in the Lord’s Prayer: Lead us not into temptation. Over the last few years, and even during this last week, people have spoken to me about the fact that our current Prayer Book (or projected prayer on our screen) instead contains the line: Save us from the time of trial. This newer version came into effect in 1995 when the General Synod of our National Anglican Church endorsed a new Prayer Book  (APBA). Although I am ignorant of the Synod debate behind the change, what I do know is that the Lord’s Prayer is taken from the gospels (Mat 6:9-13; Luke 11:2-4) in which the Greek word peirasmos is used, and can mean either trial or temptation. Given that God does not tempt (Jam 1:13) it might be considered odd to ask God to not lead us into temptation. Equally, if we ask God to spare us from the experience of trials we fail to see that Jesus promises many trials for those that follow him. Both options are prone to misunderstanding. Ultimately, because of the surrounding context of evil and sin in Mat 6:12-13, I think the translation of temptation is more consistent, but perhaps it should read: keep us from giving in to temptation. Having said that, the word trial is certainly possible, but because God’s promise is not so much rescue from trials but through trials, I would prefer the expression: save us through trial. Whatever is correct, I think they are both important prayers for us:

Strengthen us in our battle against the world, the flesh and the devil; and

Give us endurance through the trials of life.

Please do drop me a line on this or any other matter that will help us in our ‘thinking journey’ of being Christ’s people in Wagga and the world.

Blessings, Scott