FROM (Our Father, Word by Word)

November 22, 2011 | 6 comments

Our Father Who 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 Trespasses As We Forgive Those
Who Have Trespassed Against Us. Lead Us Not Into Temptation But Deliver Us From…

When I come to this word, I notice not so much the word itself, but the words that aren’t there. Notice that there is nothing between the words from and evil. It’s not “deliver us from stuff that is evil, ” or “deliver us from situations where evilness might occur.” Deliver us from evil. The word that follows from is in the singular, and is unadorned with adjectives or qualifiers.

For me, this evokes thoughts of the personal nature of evil.

The Catechism tells us:

In this petition, evil is not an abstraction, but refers to a person, Satan, the Evil One, the angel who opposes God. The devil (dia-bolos) is the one who “throws himself across” God’s plan and his work of salvation accomplished in Christ.

One of the biggest ways in which my conversion to Christianity has assisted me in terms of practical, day-to-day living is that I now understand the reality of spiritual warfare. Back when I was an atheist I felt the blows and the injuries, but didn’t know where they came from. I had no idea that I was standing on a battlefield.

Through the wisdom of the Church, I’ve learned how to recognize many of the techniques of the enemy; I’ve come to understand how to protect myself from his attacks; and I’ve been given the armor to keep me safe from his weapons. And if I could distill everything I’ve learned down to the single most important thing to know, it would be this:

Never forget that evil is personal.

Even within mainstream Christianity, there’s a tendency to discount the devil as an intelligent being, to think of evil as an impersonal force, like an earthquake or a lightning strike. But evil is not a disinterested phenomenon. As odd as it sounds to modern ears, the truth is that devil and his demons are smart — smarter than we are — and they tailor their plans of attack to each individual. They have a special plan, just for you; they’ll use different techniques for you than they do to try keep your neighbor or your brother or me away from God. And the stakes are high, since they aim to kill not only our physical bodies, but our eternal souls as well.

When you think about the enemy we’re up against, consider his intelligence, and the endless energy he has to put toward conquering in this winner-takes-all game, it fills you with a renewed understanding of just how dependent we are on God’s grace. It makes you realize with trembling that this is a battle that we simply cannot fight alone. And so we speak these last words of the Our Father with great urgency, as we beg the only One who can save us, Deliver us from evil.


  1. Lizzie

    Amen sister! I was just listening to a talk today by a priest about this very topic – that evil is personal and that the devil is much more clever than we are and tailors his attacks to us individually.
    A few years ago, I would have been really cynical about this idea. The more I learn about myself though, the more I realise how very much I need God’s grace and that I cannot do anything in my own strength or by my ‘control’.
    Thanks for listening to the Holy Spirit and giving me this very pertinent message in your inimitable style!

  2. Lisa

    This really hit home to me. I am going through a situation with a family member that has an evil “feel” to it, which I thought I was overreacting to by thinking those thoughts…except that it is so tailored to my personal sore spots and weaknesses. My Dad, a cradle Catholic, and a man whose faith is so simple and pure, used the word “evil” regarding this person’s behavior yesterday. (I don’t remember ever hearing him say that about anyone. Ever.) Well, it helps to know what we are dealing with, I guess.

    God bless you for this valuable post.

  3. Michael

    I like your emphasis on the fact that evil is personal. We too easily abstract it out of reality. I am writing about the “problem of evil” all this week.

  4. LuAnne

    Absolutely, positively right-on-the mark!

    We ARE engaged in spiritual warfare. And our enemy is not nameless, nor is he clueless…he’s very aware of each of us, each weakness and each vulnerable place…and has tailor-made plans for each of us too.

    Of course, we have God Himself (who has already defeated death, and Satan) – so we pray in confidence to our Father to deliver us.

    Great post!

  5. Jean

    You are correct about the Satan’s personal plan for our soul’s demise. It is what we choose to do with what he throws in our path that makes all the difference.

  6. Brad

    Hello Mrs. Fulwiler, I wanted to say “hello” on this page as well as the Tell Me About Yourself Page; I’ve just caught up to the current blog (starting with the now defunct older ones) and I’m now reading through January 2006. I find your journey very fascinating. Take care, and happy Thanksgiving.

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