The devil agitates matters that concern the conscience and spiritual affairs. He leads us to despise and disregard both God's Word and works. He tears us away from faith, hope, and love [1 Cor. 13:13], and he brings us into misbelief, false security, and stubbornness. Or, on the other hand, he leads us to despair, denial of God, blasphemy, and innumerable other things. These are snares and nets [2 Tim. 2:26], indeed, real fiery darts that are shot like poison into the heart, not by flesh and blood, but by the devil [Eph. 6:12,16].
Great, indeed, are these dangers and temptations, which every Christian must bear. We bear them even though each one were alone by himself. So every hour that we are in this vile life, we are attacked on all sides [2 Cor. 4:8], chased and hunted down. We are moved to cry out and to pray that God would not allow us to become weary and faint [Isa. 40:31; Heb. 12:3] and to fall again into sin, shame, and unbelief. For otherwise it is impossible to overcome the least temptation.
This is what "lead us not into temptation" means. It refers to times when God gives us power and strength to resist the temptation [1 Cor. 10:13]. However, the temptation is not taken away. While we live in the flesh and have the devil around us, no one can escape his temptation and lures. It can only mean that we must endure trials-indeed, be engulfed in them [2 Timothy 2:3]. But we say this prayer so that we may not fall and be drowned in them. (pars. 104-106)
Condensed from CONCORDIA: THE LUTHERAN CONFESSIONS, copyright 2005,2006 by Concordia Publishing House. Used by permission. All rights reserved. To purchase a copy of CONCORDIA, call 800-325-3040.