Beckett: “Deliver Us from Evil”

Get Thee Behind Me, Satan (1895) by Ilya Repin. Wikimedia Commons.

What does this mean? “We pray in this petition, in summary, that our Father in heaven would rescue us from every evil of body and soul, possessions and reputation, and finally, when our last hour comes, gives us a blessed end, and graciously takes us from this valley of sorrow to Himself in heaven” (SC, The 7th Petition).

In this final petition of the Lord’s Prayer, we ask God not only to deliver us from evil in the general sense, but especially the evil one, Satan. For in the Lord’s Prayer as it appears in Matthew 6:13, the adjective “evil” is a substantival adjective, meaning it is functioning as a noun. Thus, we pray, “Deliver us from the evil one.” As Luther says,

But there is also included in this petition whatever evil may happen to us under the devil’s kingdom: poverty, shame, death, and, in short, all the agonizing misery and heartache of which there is such an unnumbered multitude on the earth. Since the devil is not only a liar, but also a murderer [John 8:44], he constantly seeks our life… So there is nothing for us to do upon earth but to pray against this archenemy without stopping. For unless God preserved us, we would not be safe from this enemy even for an hour.

LC III, 115-116

Therefore, the Lord’s Prayer is a great comfort and a great weapon against that vile basilisk. For consider the wilderness temptation of our Lord. When Adam and Eve—and subsequently we—failed to resist the devil in Eden, Christ succeeded in driving him off in the wilderness by swatting him away with the Word of God like a pestering fly buzzing around His head. And now He has given us the words to pray—words from God the Son Himself—to swat away that annoying pest. And they are simple words, “Deliver us from the evil one,” and so He does. The Lord does not need words of lofty eloquence, but only simple words that trust in Him.

Whenever “He breaks and hinders every evil plan and purpose of the devil, the world, and our sinful nature” (SC, The Third Petition, How is God’s will done?), He answers this prayer. Ultimately, this prayer is answered on our deathbed when, much to the devil’s dismay, the Lord gives us a blessed end as we fall asleep into His care awaiting the day when He shall wake us up from sleep in “the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting” (SC, The Third Article: Sanctification). Amen.


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