And do not lead us into a time of trial, but, deliver us from the evil one.
Testing is something that we all experience. James wrote that testing proves our mettle. It builds and perfects our faith. The psalmist called on to “Try me and know my anxious thoughts.” Why, then, should we not embrace trials and testing? Why not expect that God, in all of the divine Wisdom, to try us and test us? After all, Jesus was tested in the wilderness and triumphed. This testing that Jesus instructed his disciples to pray that they might be spared is that from external powers. We may better understand it, “Father, do not take your protecting hand from us! Keep us from temptations from ungodly powers.”
We do not forsake the wilderness. It is the place where we are tried and tested, just as Jesus. The desert Fathers wrote about the aridity of the interior environment where the perfect faith was forged. We join with them in this. We agree with James and the psalmist in this. But, we must pray that Yahweh, the God who is near, will keep us and preserve us from the fiery darts and weapons of the enemy of our soul.
There is also a part of this plea that is eschatological. We pray the God’s hand will keep us from harm in the trials and tribulations that accompany the end of the age. Jesus saw this as immanent. The Kingdom of God was breaking into time and space, the end of the age was at hand. “Father, keep us from the persecutions and oppression that is to come. Through the righteous and just testing and proving of our faith, let us stand in Your strength and faithfulness when the time comes.”