Q — Why is the Lord’s Prayer translated into English to say “lead us not into temptation” instead of “let us not into temptation” or something similar? Why do we now say that awkward phrase “that you should enter under my roof” when we don’t say the rest of what scripture says from that passage?

A — The first question is best answered with a few sentences from my book, Thinking About Prayer (Eugene: Wipf and Stock, 2009), p. 25. “Testing, temptation and trial marked out (Jesus’) entire public life… He was faced with what he called Satanic opposition from his own followers, even from his own chosen right-hand man. Finally, there was the testing in the Garden of Gethsemane, the final testing before his death and resurrection. ‘Temptation’ here probably does not mean only everyday temptations — the kind of temptations we all know about in our own daily lives — so much as the great trial/temptation that was expected at the end of time. See Rev. 3:10… It refers in terms of apocalyptic literature to the time of final cosmic crisis. We may also think of it with immediate reference to our own lives: ‘Help us as we muddle our way through our messy lives, and help us to be faithful right to the end.’ ‘Lead us not’ for us is not causal. It makes no sense to ask God to stop leading us into temptation! It is much better to understand it as ‘Preserve us from succumbing to the trials that inevitably will come our way and help us to remain faithful all the way through.’”

The second question refers to the prayer said before Holy Communion: “Lord, I am not worthy…” It derives from Matt. 8:8: “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only speak the word, and my servant will be healed.” The church has altered in the liturgy this scriptural quote to make it more personal. In the Matthaean context the reference is to the centurion’s servant. He is the one who needs healing.

In the Liturgy of the Eucharist, the church recognizes that we are the ones who need healing.