Give us day by day our daily bread.
In this petition there are two things observable.
I. The order.
II. The matter.
I. The order. First we pray "Hallowed be Thy name," before "Give us this day our daily bread." Hence we learn that the glory of God ought to be preferred before our personal concerns.
1. Do we prefer God's glory before our own credit?
2. Do we prefer God's glory before our relations?
3. We must prefer God's glory before estate; gold is but shining dust, God's glory must weigh heavier.
4. We must prefer God's glory before our life — "they loved not their own lives to the death." Who but a soul inflamed in love to God can set God highest on the throne, and prefer Him above all private concerns?
II. The second thing in the petition is the matter of it — "Give us this day our daily bread."
1. See our own poverty and indigence; we live all upon alms, and upon free gifts — "Give us this day."
2. Is all a gift? then we are to seek every mercy from God by prayer — "Give us this day." The tree of mercy will not drop its fruit, unless shaken by the hand of prayer. Better starve, than go to the devil for provender.
3. If all be a gift, then it is not a debt. We cannot say to God, as that creditor said, "Pay me that thou owest."
4. If all be a gift, "Give us this day"; then take notice of God's goodness. There is nothing in us can deserve or requite God's kindness; yet such is the sweetness of His nature, He gives us rich provision, and feeds us with the finest of the wheat. Observe three things in God's giving.
(1) He is not weary of giving; the springs of mercy are ever running. The honeycomb of God's bounty is still dropping.
(2) God delights in giving — "He delighteth in mercy."(3) God gives to His very, enemies. Who will send in his provisions to his enemy? The dew drops on the thistle as well as the rose; the dew of God's bounty drops upon the worst.
5. If all be a gift, see then the odious ingratitude of men, who sin against their Giver. How many make a dart of God's mercies, and shoot at Him? He gives them wit, and they serve the devil with it.
6. If God gives us all, let God's giving excite us to thanksgiving; He is the Founder and Donor of all our blessings, let Him have all our acknowledgments. "All the rivers come from the sea, and thither they return again"; all our gifts come from God, and to Him must all our praises return. We are apt to burn incense to our own drag; to attribute all we have to our own second causes.
(1) Our own skill and industry. Or —
(2) We oft ascribe the praise to second causes, and forget God.First, give. Hence I note —
1. That the good things of this life are the gifts of God; He is the Founder and Donor.
2. From this word "give," I note, that it is not unlawful to pray for temporal things; we may pray for daily bread.
(1) There is a great difference between our praying for temporal things and spiritual. In praying for spiritual things we must be absolute; but when we pray for temporal things, here our prayers must be limited, we must pray conditionally so far as God sees them good for us.
(2) When we pray for things pertaining to this life, we must desire temporal things for spiritual ends; we must desire these things to be as helps in our journey to heaven. If we pray for health, it must be that we may improve this talent of health for God's glory, and may be fitter for His service. If we are to pray for temporal good things, then how much more for spiritual?Some may say, We have an estate already, and what need we pray, "Give us daily bread." Supposing we have a plentiful estate, yet we need make this petition, "Give us daily bread," and that upon a double account.
(1) That we may have a blessing upon our food, and all that we enjoy — "I will abundantly bless her provision." "Man shall not live by bread alone." If God should withhold a blessing, what we eat would turn to bad humours, and hasten death.
(2) Though we have estates, yet we had need pray, "give," that we may hereby engage God to continue these comforts to us. How many casualties may fall out! Secondly, "us" — "Give us." Why do we pray here in the plural? Why "Give us"? Why is it not said, "Give me"? Spiders work only for themselves but bees work for the good of others; the more excellent anything is, the more it operates for the good of others. The springs refresh others with their crystal streams, the sun enlightens others with its golden beams; the more a Christian is ennobled with grace, the more he besiegeth heaven with his prayers for others. It is matter of comfort to the godly, who are but low in the world, yet they have the prayers of God's people for them; they pray not only for the increase of their faith, but their food, that God will give them "daily bread." The fourth thing in the petition is, "our bread." Why is it called "our bread," when it is not ours, but God's?
1. We must understand it in a qualified sense; it is our bread, being gotten by honest industry. There are two sorts of bread that cannot properly be called our bread — the bread of idleness; the bread of violence.
2. It is called "our bread" by virtue of our title to it. There is a twofold title to bread.
(1) A spiritual title; in and by Christ we have a right to the creature, and may call it "our bread." "All things are yours"; by what title? "Ye are Christ's."(2) A civil title, which the law confers on us; to deny men a civil right to their possessions, and make all common, opens the door to anarchy and con. fusion. See the privilege of believers; they have both a spiritual and a civil right to what they possess; they who can say, "our Father," can say, "our bread." Wicked men, though they have a legal right to what they possess, yet have not a covenant right; they have it by providence, not by promise; with God's leave, not with His love. Wicked men are in God's eye no better than usurpers; all they have, their money and land, is like cloth taken up at the draper's, which is not paid for; but this is the sweet privilege of believers, they can say "our bread"; Christ being theirs, all is theirs. O how sweet is every bit of bread dipped in Christ's blood! The fifth and last thing in this petition is, the thing we .pray for, "daily bread." What is meant by bread? Bread here, by a synecdoche, is put for all the temporal blessings of this life, food, fuel, clothing: whatever may serve for necessity or sober delight. Learn to be contented with that allowance God gives us.If we have bread, a competency of these outward things, let us rest satisfied.
1. God can bless a little, "He will bless thy bread and thy water." A blessing puts sweetness into the least morsel of bread, it is like sugar in wine.
2. God, who gives us our allowance, knows what quantity of these outward things is fittest for us; a smaller provision may be fitter for Some; bread may be better than dainties; every one cannot bear an high condition, no more than a weak brain can bear heavy wine.
3. In being content with daily bread, that which God carves for us, though it be a lesser piece; much grace is seen in this: all the graces act their part in a contented soul. As the holy ointment was made up of several spices — myrrh, cinnamon, cassia; so, contentment hath in it a mixture of several graces. There is faith, a Christian believes God doth all for the best; and love, which thinks no evil, but takes all God doth in good part; and patience, submit. ring cheerfully to what God orders wisely. God is much pleased to see so many graces at once sweetly exercised, like so many bright stars shining in a constellation.
4. To be content with daily bread, the allowance God gives, though but sparingly, doth keep us from many temptations, which discontented persons fall into. When the devil sees a person just of Israel's humour, not content with manna, but must have quails, saith Satan, Here is good fishing for me. Satan oft tempts discontented ones to murmuring, and to unlawful means, cozening and defrauding.
5. What a rare and admirable thing is it to be content with daily bread, though it be coarse, and though there be but little of it! What he hath not in the cupboard, he hath in the promise.
6. To make us content with daily bread, though God straitens us in our allowance, think seriously of the danger that is in an high prosperous condition.
7. If God keeps us to a spare diet, if He gives us less temporals, He hath made it up in spirituals; He hath given us the pearl of price and the holy anointing.
8. If you have but daily bread enough to suffice nature, be content. Consider it is not having abundance makes the life always comfortable; it is not a great cage will make the bird sing: a competency may breed contentment, when having more may make one less content; a staff may help the traveller, but a bundle of staves will be a burden to him. A great estate may be like a long trailing garment, more burdensome than useful. Many that have great incomes and revenues have not so much comfort in their lives as some that go to their hard labour.
9. If you have less daily bread, you will have less account to give. The greater revenues the greater reckonings; this may quiet and content us, if we have but little daily bread, our account will be less.
10. You that have but a small competency in these outward things, your provisions are short, yet you may be content to consider how much you look for hereafter. God keeps the best wine till last.
Parallel VersesKJV: Give us day by day our daily bread.