We live in a fallen world. As much as we know that the world is God's creation, we also realize that He allows imperfection, unpleasant consequences, and downright badness. He has given us a choice: if we try to live life on our own wisdom and strength, we are going to blow it. He also offers the way out: Himself.
We look around and see great evils, whole cultures whose values are not God's values. There is a strong element of Pride in the human heart, which is not of God. "For the devilish strategy of Pride is that it attacks us, not on out weak side, but on our strong. It is pre-eminently the sin of the noble mind … which works more evil in the world than all the deliberate vices. Because we do not recognize pride when we see it, we stand aghast to see the havoc wrought by the triumphs of human idealism. We meant so well, we thought we were succeeding—and look what has come of our efforts! There is a proverb that says that the way to hell is paved with good intentions. We usually take it to take it as referring to intentions that have been weakly abandoned; but it has a deeper and more subtle meaning. That road is paved with good intentions strongly and obstinately pursued, until they become self-sufficing ends in themselves and deified. … The higher the goal at which we aim, the more far-reaching will be the ultimate disaster. That is why we ought to distrust all these high ambitions and lofty ideals which make the well-being of humanity their ultimate end. Man cannot make himself happy by serving himself—not even when he calls self-service the service of the community; for "the community" in that context is only an extension of his own ego." (Dorothy Sayers*)
We also deal with evil on the personal level; with people who have only their own interests at heart. Several years ago, after Pastor Paul had preached on the Parable of the Sower (Mark 4), my friend Missy came to work and said "You know the birds in that parable? I think they're buzzards!" So at our place, "buzzards" became our code word for attacks of evil. I also began to notice, in dealing with some people, that you could almost see the buzzards sitting on their shoulders whispering destructive ideas into their heads--and that there is only one way to deal with it: prayer. Arguing doesn't work. Be specific: ask for God to remove the buzzard and its smarmy little voice. That has made a huge difference in my own life. ( I also noticed that the buzzards did not want me to write this blog!)
Jesus' prayer, I think, reminds us that only God can deliver us from the evils of this world, with the evil in people we have to deal with, and also the evil that wants to take over our own souls. HIs Word and His Presence in our life is the only real defence.
*Dorothy L Sayers, Christian Letters to a Post-Christian World, Grand Rapids, MI, Wm B. Eerdmans, 1969, p153-155.