This is a tale of two prayers. “Deliver us from evil,” Jesus prayed. And here we sit thousands of years later, and an ocean away from where he uttered those words, still waiting to be delivered.
The shootings this weekend were evil, and I’m not just talking about the ones in Dayton and El Paso. The shootings in Los Angeles and New York and in every city in between were just as bad. We can blame video games, or mental illness, or white supremacy ,or gang violence. The source is the same..,evil. Lord, deliver us.
But while I’m praying for deliverance from evil, I know that evil is not the only thing I desire to be delivered from. A lot of the things that have me in bondage are not evil in, and of themselves. But they are prisons of my own making. I’m in debt because I spent money I don’t have. I’m tired because I stay up way past my bed time. I’m carrying an extra twenty pounds because I eat way more than and exercise less than I should. It’s not rocket science. But it’s not evil either. It’s just me, making bad decisions.
On Sunday, I heard Donald Lawrence’s “My Exodus” for the first time, and it spoke to my very soul. The verse is simple. It just says “Lord, deliver me, because all I seem to do is hurt me.” And I don’t know if it was my aforementioned bad habits, or the fact that Le’Andria Johnson sang that song from deep in her belly, but the song has captivated me. I have listened to it every day, several times a day.
It’s not just a song. It is an earnest prayer. The difference between this song, and prayer that Jesus prayed is that it Jesus prayed for the collective body:
“Our Father, which art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day, our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.”
It was all inclusive. But Jesus is way less selfish than most of us. He is way less selfish than me. So while I do pray for all of us, a great deal of my prayer life focuses on me and my family, and our needs. I know I need to be rescued from myself. I doubt i’m alone in that. So Lord, deliver us, but more specifically, deliver me, I pray. Amen.