Thomas Manton’s exposition of the Lord’s Prayer provides a rich feast for the believer. As I am reading this, I am amazed at the depth of this simple prayer (simple in the sense that it is short, taking only five verses).
Concerning Christ’s prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread” (see Matthew 6:11, KJV), Manton offers six ways to keep our contentment in check. The first two can be examined here and here.
Manton writes, “God knows what proportion is best for us; he is a God of judgment, and knows what is most convenient for us, for he is a wise God.” (Manton, Works Volume 1, 164)
I find in this statement several thoughts of importance. And, as Manton encourages us, these should generate contentment on our part.
A RIGHT VIEW OF GOD
The first aspect that pops out to me is that this phrase gives a right view of God. When we consider the prayer for daily bread (read: needs), we realize that we are desperate upon the goodness of God. It presents God as the giver, the maintainer of all that is needed for life.
Additionally, it also instructs us that God is a wise giver. Manton says “he is a God of judgment” and “He is a wise God.” That is, like a parent knowing that candy before dinner will spoil the appetite, increasing blessing may spoil our contentment, skew our value system, or cause us to become gluttonous (not only in relation to food, but to comfort, ease, etc.). God is a wise God. He can discern what physical blessing to bestow as well as its affect on our spiritual health.
For example, in Deuteronomy 8:1-20, there is a contrast between the blessing of the LORD (see 8:1-10) with the warning against assuming personal responsibility for God’s physical blessing (8:11-20, particularly 17). God knows what you and I can handle. We learn this from the Lord’s Prayer.
A RIGHT VIEW OF SELF
Wee submit to the righteous, good, and wise judgment of God as we pray this part of the Lord’s Prayer. We acknowledge God’s goodness. We trust His wise judgments. We realize that He is God and we are not. That is, we develop a right view of ourselves.
We learn our limits through this prayer. Ultimately, God holds our breath in His hands (see Daniel 5:23). We can plan and prepare for the future, but we have no idea what it holds. We can work to gain financial increase, but it is not in our power to procure it. We hope the crop comes in, we hope we will have our jobs in the future, we try to get more money, but we are reminded, and rather quickly I may add, that we are completely powerless. We trust in God to provide our necessities. While we work and live responsibly, ultimately we realize that we are finite, dependent (and desperately so) human beings.
A RIGHT VIEW OF THINGS
The last aspect of this prayer that I see is that it provides us with a right view of things. I am guilty of saying, “I need _________.” In my mind, if I could have _________, all would be well. However, what this Prayer teaches us is that we if we need it (the very thought of daily bread), then our God will provide it.
The negative side of this is true as well. If we do not have something we think we need, then our view of things, material possessions, is off kilter. Our value of physical stuff needs to be readjusted. Praying this prayer helps realign our view of things from a self-focused, material-valued view to a biblical view.
Manton beautifully reminds us, “It is the shepherd must choose the pasture, not the sheep. Leave it to God to give you that which sis convenient and suitable to your condition of life.” (Manton, Works Volume 1, 164)
Let this part of the Lord’s Prayer help you develop and maintain a right view of God, self, and stuff. To God be the glory.
You can purchase Thomas Manton’s Works from the Banner of Truth Trust here.