When you pray, do not use a lot of words, as the pagans do; for they believe that, the more they say, the more chance they have of being heard. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need, even before you ask him.
This, then, is how you should pray:
Our Father in heaven,
holy be your name,
your kingdom, come,
your will, be done
on earth, as in heaven.
Give us today, our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts,
as we forgive those who are in debt to us.
Do not bring us to the test,
but deliver us from the evil one.
If you forgive others their wrongdoings, your Father in heaven will also forgive yours. If you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive you.
“Do not bring us to the test.”
As they stand in today’s gospel reading, these words do not make much sense.
First of all, the Greek text speaks here of peirasmos. This word can mean “test” (33 times in the New Testament) or “temptation” (21 times in the New Testament). Here it can hardly mean “test” because James (1:2-4) tells us that the testing of our faith is an excellent thing, certainly not something to be protected from.
Consequently, the text becomes “do not bring us into temptation.” But this makes no theological sense because surely God would not want to tempt us to sin, and so we should not have to ask him not to do such a thing!
The only valid translation for this sixth petition of the Our Father is based on the Hebrew meaning of the expression “bring” as equivalent to “make enter into, make consent.” With the negation (“do not”) placed at the right place, the request becomes something like this: keep us from giving in to temptation, do not let us give in to temptation, see to it that we do not give in to temptation—or some equivalent formula. This request makes perfect sense. We ask God to protect us from our abysmal weakness.
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