Give us day by day our daily bread.
I. The order. And that is remarkable upon two accounts.
1. Whereas this petition is placed in the midst, and encompassed about with others that relate unto spiritual blessings; so that, after we have prayed for the glory of God, our Saviour teacheth us to make mention of our temporal wants, and so to pass on again to beg spiritual mercies for our souls: this may instruct us, in the government of our lives, to use worldly comforts as here we pray for them. Spiritual and heavenly things are our greatest concernments, and should be our greatest care. With these we should begin, and with these we should end.
2. It is observable that though we are commanded to seek first the kingdom of God and its righteousness, with a promise that all other earthly things shall be added to us; yet here our Saviour places the petition for temporal blessings before the two petitions we present to God for spiritual blessings.
(1) Our Saviour useth this method in His prayer in conformity to the method of Divine Providence towards us, which first gives us life and the necessities of it, and then orders us spiritual and heavenly blessings, as an accession and happy addition to those natural good things He bestows upon us.
(2) Because we are usually more sensible of our temporal than of our spiritual wants, our Saviour therefore doth by degrees raise up our desires by the one to the other: for, seeing we are commanded to pray for the supply even of our temporal necessities, which are but trivial in regard to the necessities of our souls; we cannot but be convinced that we ought to be much more earnest and importunate with God for spiritual mercies than for temporal, by how much our spiritual wants are more important and of vaster consequence than our temporal.
II. The petition itself.
1. The matter of this petition, or that which we pray for, and that is bread: Give us our bread. By bread here is meant all temporal and earthly blessings, that contribute either to our being or to our well-being in this life.
(1) Temporal mercies and blessings may lawfully be prayed for.
(a) They are needful for us as the means that God hath appointed for the preservation of our temporal life and being; in which we have so many opportunities to serve and glorify Him, and so many advantages to secure heaven and glory to our souls.
(b) As temporal good things are needful for us, so God hath promised to give them to us.
(2) They must be prayed for only conditionally; for they are only conditionally promised. And these conditions are twofold: if they be consistent with God's pleasure, and if they be conducible to our good. Now God is said to give us our daily bread, and all the necessaries of life, especially two ways.
(a) By producing them and bringing them to us.
(b) God gives them by blessing them to us.
2. Let us consider the specification of this blessing, or the kind and quality of it, our daily bread.
(1) We may pray for the supply of all our natural necessities.
(2) Besides things that are naturally necessary, there are things that are civilly necessary; which are not so absolutely imperious as the other, yet these also oblige us to pray for supplies and relief.
3. In the words of this petition are designed our right and propriety to this daily bread: Give us our daily bread.
(1) Now right to a temporal enjoyment is threefold, either natural, or spiritual, or civil. Natural by creation, spiritual by regeneration, and civil by human and legal constitution.
(2) Now when we pray for our daily bread, we pray —
(a) That God would give us the good things of this life, to be obtained by us in a lawful regular manner.
(b) That He would bless and increase those good things that are rightfully our own.
(c) That He would bestow upon us a spiritual right in whatsoever we enjoy, through Jesus Christ, who is the Heir and Possessor of all things.
(d) We pray that we may not desire nor covet that which is another's: for we are taught to pray only for that which we may justly call ours, to which we have as well a civil as a spiritual right and title.
4. We have in the words the limitation of the petition in respect of time. "Give us this day our daily bread." And, indeed, there is great reason why we should pray for it this day; for we every day stand in need of relief and supplies from God. Our wants and our troubles grow up thick about us, and unless God make daily provisions for us we shall be overrun by them. Food nourishes but a day, and that which we receive this day will not suffice us to-morrow. There is a continual spring and fountain of necessities within us; and, therefore, we must have continual recourse unto God by prayer, that He would daily satisfy and supply our wants as they daily rise up about us. Again, by teaching us to pray for our temporal comforts this day, our Saviour tacitly intimates to us that we should be content with our daily allowance. It is enough, if we have our dimensum, our appointed food for the day.
Parallel VersesKJV: Give us day by day our daily bread.