Lead us not into temptation
The story is told of a London boy who could never understand why it was that, in the Lord’s Prayer, we pray, “And lead us not into Thames Station”. Of course, as you know, what it really says is, “And lead us not into temptation”.
The words tempt and temptation are connected with the word to attempt or try; and so a temptation is a try-out or test to see where someone is strong or weak. In fact, it is rather like what a test pilot does. When a new plane has been designed and made, it is taken up by a test pilot, and his or her job is to throw it about the sky by diving and looping and rolling it in order to find out all its strong and weak points. If the plane fails to pass the test with full marks, then alterations are made until it does.
The meaning of temptation
A temptation is anything which tries out our strength or weakness when it comes to choosing between right and wrong. The Devil, and the people he makes use of, tempt us in the hope that we will choose what is wrong. God allows them to do so in the hope that we will choose what is right. You mustn’t muddle temptation up with sin. We cannot help being tempted; we cannot help bad thoughts coming into our minds suggesting that we should say or do this or that. But we can help giving those thoughts a welcome, instead of turning them out. As someone once put it, “I cannot stop the birds from flying over my head, but I can stop them from perching on it”. So temptation becomes sin only when we give in to it.