The Wanderer

As I walked through the wilderness of this world …

Hallowed be my name?

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Thomas MantonThomas Manton can deliver a stinging spiritual slap: “Prayer doth not consist in a multitude or clatter of words, but in the getting up of the heart to God, that we may behave ourselves as if we were alone with God, in the midst of glorious saints and angels” (Works, 1.60).  Truly, how often do you pray like that?

Here he is applying lessons drawn from his exposition of the Lord’s prayer, here focusing on the petition, “Hallowed by thy name.”

He begins by explaining why this is the first petition, telling us – among many other wonderful things – that

man was made for two ends—to glorify God, and to enjoy him. Now our crown of glory must be laid at God’s feet; as the elders, Rev. iv. 10, ‘Saying, Thou art worthy, Lord, to receive glory, and honour, and power.’ All our desires must give place to this, that he may be glorified in our eternal happiness; and we are to beg it no further than as it may stand with his honour. Man’s chief end, and so his chief request, in respect of himself, is, to enjoy God; but with respect to God, so it is the highest only of subordinate ends; for the highest, chiefly and absolutely, is the glorifying of God. (Works, 1.69)

Then he provides reasons why it is right that this be the first petition, before moving on to the ways in which we can use this truth:  His first use is “of reproof”, and it cuts deeply:

Use 1. To reprove us, that we are no more affected with God’s glory. Oh, how little do we aim at and regard it in our prayers! We should seek it, not only above the profits and pleasures of this life, but even above life itself; yea, above life present and to come. But alas! since the fall, we are corrupt, and wholly poisoned with self-love; we prefer every base interest and trifle before God; nay, we prefer carnal self before God. Some are wholly brutish; and so they may wallow in ease and pleasure, and eat the fat and drink the sweet, never think of God, care not how God is dishonoured, both by themselves and others. And then some, oh, how tender are they in matters of their own concernment, and affected with it, more than for the glory of God!—John xii. 43. They are more affected with their own honour, and their own loss and reproach, than with God’s dishonour or God’s glory. If their own reputation be but hazarded a little, oh, how it stings them to the heart! But if they be faulty towards God, they can pass it over without trouble. A word of disgrace, a little contempt cast upon our persons, kindles the coals and fills us with rage; but we can hear God’s name dishonoured, and not be moved with it. When they pray, if they beg outward blessings, if they ask anything, it is for their lusts, not for God; it is but to feed their pomp and excess, and that they may shine in the pomp and splendour of external accommodations. If they beg quickening and enlargement, it is for their own honour, that their lusts may be fed by the contributions of heaven; so, by a wicked design, they would even make God to serve the devil. The best of us, when we come to pray, what a deep sense have we of our own wants, and no desire of the glory of God! If we beg daily bread, maintenance, and protection, we do not beg it as a talent to be improved for our master’s use, but as fuel for our lusts. If we beg deliverance, it is because we are in pain, and ill at ease; not that we may honour and glorify God, that mercy and truth may shine forth. If we beg pardon, it is only to get rid of the smart, and be enlarged out of the stocks of conscience. If they beg grace, it is but a lazy wish after sanctification, because they are convinced there is no other way to be happy. If they beg eternal glory, they do not beg it for God, it appears plainly, because they can be content to dishonour God long, provided they at length may be saved. Most of us pray without a heart set to glorify God, and to bring honour unto his great name. Though a man hath never so much sense and feeling in his prayer, yet if his heart be not duly set as to the glory of God, his prayer is turned into sin. It is not the manner or the vehemency only, for a carnal spring may send forth high tides of affection, and motions that come from lust may be earnest and very rapid; therefore it is not enough to have fervour and vehemency, but when our aim is to honour and glorify God: Zech. vii. 5, 6, ‘When ye fasted, did ye at all fast unto me, even to me? And when ye did eat, and when ye did drink, did you not eat for yourselves, and drink for yourselves?’ (Works, 1.71-72)

May we learn to pray for God’s glory indeed, and not merely for our own ease, comfort, security and exaltation.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Monday 7 September 2009 at 09:53

Posted in prayer

Tagged with , ,

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