Annotations to the Heidelberg Catechism - Lord's Day 52
Lord's Day 52
What is the sixth petition?
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
In ourselves we are so weak
that we cannot stand even for a moment.
Moreover, our sworn enemies –
the devil, the world, and our own flesh –
do not cease to attack us.
Wilt Thou, therefore, uphold and strengthen us
by the power of Thy Holy Spirit, so that in this
spiritual war we may not go down to defeat,
but always firmly resist our enemies, until we finally
obtain the complete victory.
How do you conclude your prayer?
For Thine is the kingdom,
and the power,
and the glory, for ever.
All this we ask of Thee because, as our King,
having power over all things,
Thou art both willing and able
to give us all that is good,
and because not we but Thy holy Name
should so receive all glory for ever.
What does the word Amen mean?
It is true and certain.
For God has much more certainly
heard my prayer
than I feel in my heart
that I desire this of Him.
Q. & A. 127 And Lead Us Not into Temptation, But Deliver Us from the Evil One
- There is a distinction between temptation and testing. Temptation is the deliberate attempt to persuade another person to do evil. The purpose of testing is to show the good by exertion. (The word “temptation” is used a few times in the KJV in the sense of “testing”). God does not tempt anyone (Jas 1:13). But that is all Satan does. However, God does sometimes lead into temptation. Sometimes he gives Satan the chance to use his power to tempt us (Mt 4:1). The Lord does this to reveal the power of his work in us, or to teach us to know our own weakness.
- God always does it for a good reason. But it is hard for us. For we are so weak of ourselves that we cannot stand even for a moment. That is why the Master teaches us to pray that God will not lead us into temptation, but will spare us from temptation. He who asks this should not, of course, himself prevent the answer to his prayer by living rashly and imprudently, thereby placing himself in temptation!
- We know, however, that God sometimes wants to lead us into temptation. That is why, in the second part of the petition, the petitioner asks that, in that event, God will deliver him from the evil one! Thus, we ask that God will uphold and strengthen us by the power of his holy Spirit, so that we do not succumb in this spiritual war, but always firmly resist our enemies, until we finally obtain the complete victory. For we shall do so. The victory is sure in Christ. Through him we are more than conquerors! (Rom 8:37).
- The translation “evil,” instead of “the evil one,” is to be rejected. It is quite clear that the Saviour directed our attention to The evil one, satan, in this petition. He did this constantly (see, inter alia, Mt 12:28, 29; 13:19; Mk 8:33; Lk 10:19). And the Catechism rightly notes that his two powerful allies, the world, full of temptation, and our own flesh, full of guile and craftiness, are also meant to be included with this Prince of Darkness. These three are our sworn enemies!
- What is temptation? What is testing? Does God tempt? What does he do? Why does he do this?
- What does the Saviour teach us to pray regarding temptation? How must we conduct ourselves regarding temptation? What else do we pray for in this petition? How does the Lord want to deliver us from the evil one?
- Who is the evil one? Who are his allies?
Q. & A. 128 For Thine Is the Kingdom, And the Power, and the Glory, for Ever
- Our prayer, in which we place ourselves before God's countenance and speak to him, may not consist solely of petitions. It must also include thanksgiving and adoration; thanksgiving for God's goodness and gifts; adoration in which to praise and extol his wonderful attributes and his greatness. The conclusion of the perfect prayer, in which we ask nothing more, but praise and extol God, teaches us to do this.
- In this doxology we confess that God is king, the shepherd of his people. He is willing to hear our prayer (since he is king), and he has the ability to do so. For all power derives from him. He is able to hear us. And all glory comes from him. He only is exalted and wholly perfect. He will uphold his Word and, therefore, he shall hear us. Further, we confess in this doxology that God's glory is the purpose of our prayer. For we may not seek ourselves in our prayer. Rather, our goal must be God's honour. We pray, in the words of the Catechism, “because not we but Thy holy Name should so receive all glory for ever.” This testimony is strengthened by the phrase, “for ever.”
- What must our prayer be in addition to petitions? For what ought we to give thanks? What do we do in adoration?
- What do we confess when we say “Thine is the kingdom,” “Thine is the power,” and “Thine is the glory,” respectively? What is the purpose of our prayer? Why does the doxology add the phrase, “for ever”?
Q. & A. 129 Amen
- The word “amen” does not mean “it is finished,” but “it is certain.” The Lord Jesus often said: Amen, amen, I say to you; truly, truly, I say to you.
- Thus, when we conclude our prayer with “amen,” we say: “It is true and certain.” Thereby we remove all doubt and confess, “God has much more certainly heard my prayer than I feel in my heart that I desire this of Him.” We can be so certain about this because God promised to hear us! He hears our prayer!
Although he does not always remove distress, he does give strength to endure (2 Cor 12:7-9). He does not hear in accordance with our insight, but in accordance with his Fatherly wisdom. Nevertheless, he hears our prayer! And we must rise from our prayer in that confidence of faith, not doubting, but certain that “none that wait for thee [are] put to shame” (Ps 25:3). Therefore, in the words of Ps 103:1: "Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Amen."
- What does “amen” mean? How did the Saviour often use it?
- What do we testify when we conclude our prayer with “amen”? How can we say this with such certainty? Does the Father always hear our prayer in the way we would like?