“I was reading in Matthew’s gospel last night,” I said to Stan one morning, “and I was focusing on what Jesus said about how to pray.”
“Any particular part of that?” Stan asked.
“”Yes,” I replied, “the part where Jesus said to pray about being delivered from evil. How do I do that?”
“How do you do what?” Stan asked, “Pray to be delivered or choose to be delivered?”
“Aren’t they the same?” I asked.
“Oh, I don’t think so,” Stan responded. “I think there is a world of difference between the two.”
Continuing, he said, “If I pray to be delivered from evil, but don’t follow that up with choices that go in the direction of keeping from evil, I think I am choosing to pray an empty prayer.”
“An empty prayer?” I asked.
“Yeah,” Stan replied, “I believe that God has given me the choice to choose about most things in my life, maybe everything, and that being delivered from evil falls into that category. If I ask God to deliver me, but then don’t choose to allow God to deliver me, it’s an empty prayer.”
Continuing, he added, “The Book of Proverbs, in talking about wisdom, says the same thing.”
“What same thing?” I asked.
“That the wisdom of God,” Stan replied, “will deliver me from evil and from those who delight in doing evil, but, which means there is a choice, I have to choose to receive the wisdom of God.”
Concluding, he said, “I have a part to play in the cosmic battle between good and evil. That part involves making the right choices. Not choosing to be delivered from evil is, I think, the same thing as making the opposite choice to be delivered from the good God intends for me to pursue.”
. . . but deliver us from evil. Matthew 6:13.
(Wisdom will) deliver you from the way of evil, from the man who speaks perverse things; from those who leave the path of righteousness, to walk in the ways of darkness; who delight in doing evil, and rejoice in the perversity of evil. Proverbs 2:12 – 14.
Prayer: Thank you, Father, that you want to deliver me from evil. And thank you that you have provided all I need to be delivered from evil by making the choice to be delivered. I confess that too often I do not choose what you have available, but, rather, choose the way of self, the world, the flesh, and the devil, that takes me away from what you have for me. Please forgive me. And please, Father, help me in following every step of your lead to make the choices in every aspect of my being that will deliver me from all that is contrary to you. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Things to think (and journal) about: What does it look like to you for you to choose to be delivered from evil? How do you make those choices and how do you follow through with them?
Comments, questions, suggestions, and the like can be addressed to The Storyteller at: firstname.lastname@example.org.