Question 61 Part I

What does “but deliver us from evil” mean?

When we pray, Deliver us from evil, we tell ourselves to consider that we do not yet enjoy the good estate in which we experience no evil.  And this petition, which comes last in the Lord’s Prayer, is so comprehensive that a Christian, regardless of the trial he finds himself in, can use it in his groans and find release in tears.

from St. Augustine Answers 101 Questions on Prayer by Fr. Ermatinger


When we pray to be delivered from evil, we are not ultimately praying to be delivered from that which we perceive to be evil, but from true evil; that which attempts to set itself against the will of God. In this world, we experience subjectively ill things; things that go against our appetites, sentiments, physical comforts, etc., and apply to them the term evil just as we apply those that are in accordance with our subjective judgment the term good. It is not necessarily the case that the deprivations that we experience subjectively are true evils, but it is always the case that whatever comes into our lives is there at least because God permits it so that it might become for us a means for His glorification and our sanctification. … if we have received good things at the hand of God, why should we not receive evil (Job 2:10)?

When we pray to be delivered from these subjective evils, these deprivations, we are praying not that the deprivations simply cease but that our subjective perception of these deprivations ceases. We have prayed Thy will be done; to see the world as God sees it and to act in concert with His will, to gain the wisdom to discern the meaning and purpose of that which comes and goes into our lives. In praying to have the mind of Christ, we seek to see as He sees least we fall into the woes of those that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! (Isa 5:20). Nonetheless, we pray that the deprivations cease in order to obtain the good things of God, not simply that we are freed from that which we find subjectively displeasing.

Do we seek to be freed from the chains of the old man only to not correct our way of life and remain the old man? Do we seek to be freed from the snares of the devils only to be rooted in place by a gossamer thread of our own weaving to our vices? We pray to be delivered yet do we surrender ourselves to Christ as our King and Master?

If we wish to be freed from the subjectiveness of evils, some of which may be incorrectly discerned goods, some true evils that we have been permitted to suffer so that we might win the laurels of glory (cfr. 1 Cor 9:24-25), we must ever seek not just freedom from evil experiences and bondages but to delivered into His hands, to be lead by Him where He wills and to never stray again; to truly accept that His will might be done, that we might receive from His good hands our daily bread, and that by His Blood we might find our trespasses forgiven.


St. Paul in Prison, Unknown