As Catholic Christians, we know  "The Lord’s Prayer” by heart.  But some of us do not fully understand what "Lead Us Not Into Temptation" really means.  Some may wonder if we are asking God NOT to lead us into temptation.  Others ask "Shouldn't the "Our Father" prayer read, "And Leave us not unto temptation versus "And Lead us not into temptation?" 

The Greek translation of this scripture is quite clear.  It is "And lead us not into temptation."  The scripture verse is not "leave us not unto temptation."  The Greek is translated literally as saying, "lead us not into temptation:  "καὶ μὴ εἰσενέγκῃςἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν". 

There are many interpretations of this particular verse, especially in light of the following verses from James 1:12-15: "For God is not subject to temptation to evil and He Himself tempts no one." So, here is an interpretation of this verse (my summary from the Catholic Encyclopedia): Interpretations of this particular petition of the prayer — not to be led by God into peirasmos— vary considerably.  There is a range of meanings of the Greek word "πειρασμός" (peirasmos).  In different contexts it can mean temptation, testing, trial, or experiment.  Traditionally it has been translated "temptation" and some see the petition in the Lord's Prayer as implying that God leads people to sin.

There are generally two arguments for interpreting the word as meaning a "test of character".  First, it may be a  prayer appeal against an unfavorable Last Judgment, a theory supported by the use of the word "peirasmos" in this sense in Revelation 3:10 ("I will keep you safe in the time of trial that is going to come to the whole world to test the inhabitants of earth.") The other argument is that it acts as a plea against hard tests described elsewhere in scripture, such as those of Job in the Old Testament. It can also be read as: "Lord, do not let us be led (by ourselves, by others, by Satan) into temptations". 

Since it follows shortly after a plea for daily bread (material sustenance), it can be seen as referring to not being caught up in the material pleasures given. A similar phrase appears in Matthew 26:41 ("Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test") and Luke 22:40 ("Pray that you may not undergo the test") in connection with the prayer of Jesus in Garden of Olives on Holy Thursday night (the agony in the garden). So, I suspect that the better English translation of the Greek could go like this: "and lead us not into the test, but deliver us from evil.

Pope Benedict, issuing the Compedium, explains 'Lead Us Not Into Temptation in the 'Our Father' saying: "We ask God, our Father not to leave us alone and in the power of temptation. We ask the Holy Spirit to help us know how to discern, on the one hand, between a trial that makes us grow in goodness and a temptation that leads to sin and death and, on the other hand, between being tempted and consenting to temptation. This petition unites us to Jesus who overcame temptation by His prayer. It requests the grace of vigilance and of final perseverance."  Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Paperback) tagged "ca

Father Bill Breslin, a Catholic priest serving two parishes, one in Boulder, CO and another in Nederland, CO.  was born and raised in Red Bank, New Jersey on defining "Lead us not into Temptation" in the Lord's Prayer explains: "What is this “temptation” that the Lord tells us to pray about? The ultimate temptation we all face is this: the temptation to be other than where we are; the temptation to be other than who we are.

"How many of us spend time wishing for a more perfect world, a more congenial association of family members, a different spouse, a different job, a different world? And how many of us spend time wishing I were other than who I am, wishing that that I didn’t have this or that problem, didn’t have this or that history, didn’t have this or that struggle in life? Think of all the effort and money spent on being a different “me,” less gray haired, less fat, less lonely, more happy, more wealthy, something, anything, other than who I am.

"This temptation was the temptation of Jesus Himself in the Garden of Gethsemane: to be in a different place, to be facing a different immediate future, to be other than this kind of Messiah. He could have run up the hill of the Mount of Olives and run to safety at the home of Martha and Mary and Lazarus. But His hour had come. He was indeed the type of Messiah depicted in the Suffering Servant Songs of Isaiah; this was His calling and now the hour had come for Him to embrace what was before Him.

"Another translation for “lead us not into temptation” is “subject us not to the test.” Do not let us be put to the test, namely the test of being tempted to be elsewhere, and to be someone other than who we really are.  So, the next time you experience the temptation to be dissatisfied with your life or with your predicament, or with your loved ones, or with your plight in life, or with your looks, or with your history of sin, or with your being you, then pray the Lord’s Prayer, and pay attention to this line: “Lead us not into temptation. "The Heart of the Matter: What does "lead us not into temptation" mean?

When we pray the "Our Father", we are asking the Lord to help us avoid collapsing under the weight of the trials we all face in life; we will not succumb to the temptations that Satan cleverly tempts us with, for God will sustain us and bless our avoidance of sin.  What we are praying for here is that we will not collapse in the trials and travails of life. 

Fr. Leonard Goffine (6 December 1648 – 11 August 1719) was a German Catholic priest who wrote devotional texts which remained influential in his country for two centuries afterwards.  He had this to say: "We ask God to avert all temptations or at least not to abandon us when we are tempted. We cannot, indeed, be entirely free from them in this world, they are even necessary and useful for our salvation: for without temptation there is not combat, without combat no victory, and without victory no crown."

God does not tempt us to sin; but He permits us to be tempted to try our fidelity or punish our pride and to give us an opportunity of meriting rewards for ourselves by overcoming the temptations.  God is much more than my specific adjectives of Him.  He is Benevolent and He is our Father who corrects us so that we can live with Him forever in heaven. ALLELUIA!


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