Friday, August 31, 2012

Lord, Teach Us to Pray...As We Get Honest

On our next-to-last week of our line-by-line journey through the Lord's Prayer, our focus line is "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil," and our scriptures are Matthew 6:5-13 and Matthew 8:23-34.  I'd also recommend a refresher read of Romans 7:15-25, just for fun.  All these scriptures can be found here.

What's your greatest temptation?

It's something we think about a lot around Lent--what should we give up in this season?  One year I gave up ice cream.  One year one of my friends gave up Diet Coke and swearing, which I thought was a spectacularly funny combination.  The author of the blog "" (yes this is real) confessed  a temptation that will surely resonate with many as Girl Scout Cookie season draws near, and then asked a question:  Thin Mints are my weakness, and actually anything made or coated with chocolate, I just can't resist. I don't think there's anything wrong with giving into your temptations and enjoying a few tasty bites. However, if I ate too much chocolate all the time I'd feel pretty crappy (and end up gaining a few extra pounds), so that totally helps to curb my cravings. Here is the thing: I'm human and if chocolate is in front of me, it can be tough to pass up. So I try to avoid temptations by only buying chocolate in bite-size pieces (instead of huge bars). Since I love to bake with chocolate, I also try to make cookies and treats for occasions or when I'm having people over. That way I can enjoy a cookie (or three), and share the rest. So speak up and tell me, what do you crave the most and how do you stay strong in the face of temptation?

The responses she received were myriad: 
  • "Espresso and baked goods. Keeping it away from me and vanity help."
  • "NACHOS. I could live off of nachos. So my trick is to only use low fat cheese, fresh salsa, and nonfat plain yogurt instead of sour cream. That way it still feels like a guilty pleasure!"
  • "BAKED GOODS! I will eat an entire batch of anything in a day’s time. My trick now is to only make vegan baked goods and to use whole wheat flour. That way there's very little fat, and I'm at least getting some sort of nutritional, instead of just fat and sugar"
  • "Reese's peanut butter cups. I dont really avoid them, I just eat them once in a while. Nothing wrong with that! :)"
I laughed and nodded as I read this, but also wondered if typically--when we think of temptation--we don't tend to come in a bit on the shallow side when we stick to identification of these surface temptations.  I mean people of faith, are these the temptations Jesus was telling us to pray to resist?  Probably not.  So what are we talking about here?  What are the deeper temptations--the darker tendencies--towards which we find ourselves inexplicably pulled, drawn again and again, which we find hard to turn away from or turn down?  How do we learn to identify them?

I am not a person who sits around and thinks about temptation, the Devil, or Evil very much, but when I do, the below song from Andy Gullahorn (whose music I introduced on "Hallowed be your name" week in worship) often comes to mind.  Listen to the lyrics and get honest, if you can:  what are the REAL temptations you face?  As a person striving to live by faith, what is it that pulls you away--sometimes slowly, deceptively, before you even realize it's happening?  And how does the Lord's Prayer help us address these things, to stay strong and connected to God in the midst of them?

No comments: