Calvin, Institutes, Vol.3, Part 24
(... continued from part 23)

    31. Hence it is perfectly clear that neither words nor singing 
(if used in prayer) are of the least consequence, or avail one iota 
with God, unless they proceed from deep feeling in the heart. Nay, 
rather they provoke his anger against us, if they come from the lips 
and throat only, since this is to abuse his sacred name, and hold 
his majesty in derision. This we infer from the words of Isaiah, 
which, though their meaning is of wider extent, go to rebuke this 
vice also: "Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, 
and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far 
from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: 
therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this 
people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their 
wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men 
shall be hid," (Isa. 29: 13.) Still we do not condemn words or 
singing, but rather greatly commend them, provided the feeling of 
the mind goes along with them. For in this way the thought of God is 
kept alive on our minds, which, from their fickle and versatile 
nature, soon relax, and are distracted by various objects, unless 
various means are used to support them. Besides, since the glory of 
God ought in a manner to be displayed in each part of our body, the 
special service to which the tongue should be devoted is that of 
singing and speaking, inasmuch as it has been expressly created to 
declare and proclaim the praise of God. This employment of the 
tongue is chiefly in the public services which are performed in the 
meeting of the saints. In this way the God whom we serve in one 
spirit and one faith, we glorify together as it were with one voice 
and one mouth; and that openly, so that each may in turn receive the 
confession of his brother's faith, and be invited and incited to 
imitate it. 
    32. It is certain that the use of singing in churches (which I 
may mention in passing) is not only very ancient, but was also used 
by the Apostles, as we may gather from the words of Paul, "I will 
sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also," 
(1 Cor. 14: 15.) In like manner he says to the Colossians, "Teaching 
and admonishing one another in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual 
songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord," (Col. 3: 16.) 
In the former passage, he enjoins us to sing with the voice and the 
heart; in the latter, he commends spiritual Songs, by which the 
pious mutually edify each other. That it was not an universal 
practice, however, is attested by Augustine, (Confess. Lib. 9: cap. 
7,) who states that the church of Milan first began to use singing 
in the time of Ambrose, when the orthodox faith being persecuted by 
Justina, the mother of Valentinian, the vigils of the people were 
more frequent than usual;[17] and that the practice was afterwards 
followed by the other Western churches. He had said a little before 
that the custom came from the East.[18] He also intimates (Retract. 
Lib. 2:) that it was received in Africa in his own time. His words 
are, "Hilarius, a man of tribunitial rank, assailed with the 
bitterest invectives he could use the custom which then began to 
exist at Carthage, of singing hymns from the book of Psalms at the 
altar, either before the oblation, or when it was distributed to the 
people; I answered him, at the request of my brethren."[19] And 
certainly if singing is tempered to a gravity befitting the presence 
of God and angels, it both gives dignity and grace to sacred 
actions, and has a very powerful tendency to stir up the mind to 
true zeal and ardor in prayer. We must, however, carefully beware, 
lest our ears be more intent on the music than our minds on the 
spiritual meaning of the words. Augustine confesses (Confess. Lib. 
10: cap. 33) that the fear of this danger sometimes made him wish 
for the introduction of a practice observed by Athanasius, who 
ordered the reader to use only a gentle inflection of the voice, 
more akin to recitation than singing. But on again considering how 
many advantages were derived from singing, he inclined to the other 
side.[20] If this moderation is used, there cannot be a doubt that 
the practice is most sacred and salutary. On the other hand, songs 
composed merely to tickle and delight the ear are unbecoming the 
majesty of the Church, and cannot but be most displeasing to God. 
    33. It is also plain that the public prayers are not to be 
couched in Greek among the Latins, nor in Latin among the French or 
English, (as hitherto has been every where practised,) but in the 
vulgar tongue, so that all present may understand them, since they 
ought to be used for the edification of the whole Church, which 
cannot be in the least degree benefited by a sound not understood. 
Those who are not moved by any reason of humanity or charity, ought 
at least to be somewhat moved by the authority of Paul, whose words 
are by no means ambiguous: "When thou shalt bless with the spirit, 
how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say, Amen, at 
thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest? 
For thou verily givest thanks, but the other is not edified," (1 
Cor. 14: 16, 17.) How then can one sufficiently admire the unbridled 
license of the Papists, who, while the Apostle publicly protests 
against it, hesitate not to bawl out the most verbose prayers in a 
foreign tongue, prayers of which they themselves sometimes do not 
understand one syllable, and which they have no wish that others 
should understand?[21] Different is the course which Paul 
prescribes, "What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I 
will pray with the understanding also; I will sing with the spirit, 
and I will sing with the understanding also:" meaning by the 
_spirit_ the special gift of tongues, which some who had received it 
abused when they dissevered it from the mind, that is, the 
understanding. The principle we must always hold is, that in all 
prayer, public and private, the tongue without the mind must be 
displeasing to God. Moreover, the mind must be so incited, as in 
ardor of thought far to surpass what the tongue is able to express. 
Lastly, the tongue is not even necessary to private prayer, unless 
in so far as the internal feeling is insufficient for incitement, or 
the vehemence of the incitement carries the utterance of the tongue 
along with it. For although the best prayers are sometimes without 
utterance, yet when the feeling of the mind is overpowering, the 
tongue spontaneously breaks forth into utterance, and our other 
members into gesture. Hence that dubious muttering of Hannah, (1 
Sam. 1: 13,) something similar to which is experienced by all the 
saints when concise and abrupt expressions escape from them. The 
bodily gestures usually observed in prayer, such as kneeling and 
uncovering of the head, (Calv. in Acts 20: 36,) are exercises by 
which we attempt to rise to higher veneration of God. 
    34. We must now attend not only to a surer method, but also 
form of prayer, that, namely, which our heavenly Father has 
delivered to us by his beloved Son, and in which we may recognize 
his boundless goodness and condescension, (Matth. 6: 9; Luke 11: 2.) 
Besides admonishing and exhorting us to seek him in our every 
necessity, (as children are wont to betake themselves to the 
protection of their parents when oppressed with any anxiety,) seeing 
that we were not fully aware how great our poverty was, or what was 
right or for our interest to ask, he has provided for this 
ignorance; that wherein our capacity failed he has sufficiently 
supplied. For he has given us a form in which is set before us as in 
a picture every thing which it is lawful to wish, every thing which 
is conducive to our interest, every thing which it is necessary to 
demand. From his goodness in this respect we derive the great 
comfort of knowing, that as we ask almost in his words, we ask 
nothing that is absurd, or foreign, or unseasonable; nothing, in 
short, that is not agreeable to him. Plato, seeing the ignorance of 
men in presenting their desires to God, desires which if granted 
would often be most injurious to them, declares the best form of 
prayer to be that which an ancient poet has furnished: "O king 
Jupiter, give what is best, whether we wish it or wish it not; but 
avert from us what is evil even though we ask it," (Plato, Alcibiad. 
2:) This heathen shows his wisdom in discerning how dangerous it is 
to ask of God what our own passion dictates; while, at the same 
time, he reminds us of our unhappy condition in not being able to 
open our lips before God without dangers unless his Spirit instruct 
us how to pray aright, (Rom. 8: 26.) The higher value, therefore, 
ought we to set on the privilege, when the only begotten Son of God 
puts words into our lips, and thus relieves our minds of all 
    35. This form or rule of prayer is composed of _six petitions_. 
For I am prevented from agreeing with those who divide it into 
_seven_ by the adversative mode of diction used by the Evangelist, 
who appears to have intended to unite the two members together; as 
if he had said, Do not allow us to be overcome by temptation, but 
rather bring assistance to our frailty, and deliver us that we may 
not fall. Ancient writers[22] also agree with us, that what is added 
by Matthew as a seventh head is to be considered as explanatory of 
the sixth petition.[23] But though in every part of the prayer the 
first place is assigned to the glory of God, still this is more 
especially the object of the three first petitions, in which we are 
to look to the glory of God alone, without any reference to what is 
called our own advantage. The three remaining petitions are devoted 
to our interest, and properly relate to things which it is useful 
for us to ask. When we ask that the name of God may be hallowed, as 
God wishes to prove whether we love and serve him freely, or from 
the hope of reward, we are not to think at all of our own interest; 
we must set his glory before our eyes, and keep them intent upon it 
alone. In the other similar petitions, this is the only manner in 
which we ought to be affected. It is true, that in this way our own 
interest is greatly promoted, because, when the name of God is 
hallowed in the way we ask, our own sanctification also is thereby 
promoted. But in regard to this advantage, we must, as I have said, 
shut our eyes, and be in a manner blind, so as not even to see it; 
and hence were all hope of our private advantage cut off, we still 
should never cease to wish and pray for this hallowing, and every 
thing else which pertains to the glory of God. We have examples in 
Moses and Paul, who did not count it grievous to turn away their 
eyes and minds from themselves, and with intense and fervent zeal 
long for death, if by their loss the kingdom and glory of God might 
be promoted, (Exod. 32: 32; Rom. 9: 3.) On the other hand, when we 
ask for daily bread, although we desire what is advantageous for 
ourselves, we ought also especially to seek the glory of God, so 
much so that we would not ask at all unless it were to turn to his 
glory. Let us now proceed to an exposition of the Prayer.  OUR 
    36. The first thing suggested at the very outset is, as we have 
already said, (sec. 17-19,) that all our prayers to God ought only 
to be presented in the name of Christ, as there is no other name 
which can recommend them. In calling God our Father, we certainly 
plead the name of Christ. For with what confidence could any man 
call God his Father? Who would have the presumption to arrogate to 
himself the honour of a son of God were we not gratuitously adopted 
as his sons in Christ? He being the true Son, has been given to us 
as a brother, so that that which he possesses as his own by nature 
becomes ours by adoption, if we embrace this great mercy with firm 
faith. As John says, "As many as received him, to them gave he power 
to become the sons of God, even to them that believe in his name," 
(John 1: 12.) Hence he both calls himself our Father, and is pleased 
to be so called by us, by this delightful name relieving us of all 
distrust, since no where can a stronger affection be found than in a 
father. Hence, too, he could not have given us a stronger testimony 
of his boundless love than in calling us his sons. But his love 
towards us is so much the greater and more excellent than that of 
earthly parents, the farther he surpasses all men in goodness and 
mercy, (Isaiah 63: 16.) Earthly parents, laying aside all paternal 
affection, might abandon their offspring; he will never abandon us, 
(Ps. 27: 10,) seeing he cannot deny himself. For we have his 
promise, "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto 
your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven 
give good things to them that ask him?" (Matth. 7: 11.) In like 
manner in the prophet, "Can a woman forget her sucking child, that 
she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may 
forget, yet will not I forget thee," (Isaiah 49: 15.) But if we are 
his sons, then as a son cannot betake himself to the protection of a 
stranger and a foreigner without at the same time complaining of his 
father's cruelty or poverty, so we cannot ask assistance from any 
other quarter than from him, unless we would upbraid him with 
poverty, or want of means, or cruelty and excessive austerity. 
    37. Nor let us allege that we are justly rendered timid by a 
consciousness of sin, by which our Father, though mild and merciful, 
is daily offended. For if among men a son cannot have a better 
advocate to plead his cause with his father, and cannot employ a 
better intercessor to regain his lost favour, than if he come 
himself suppliant and downcast, acknowledging his fault, to implore 
the mercy of his father, whose paternal feelings cannot but be moved 
by such entreaties, what will that "Father of all mercies, and God 
of all comfort," do? (2 Cor. i. 3.) Will he not rather listen to the 
tears and groans of his children, when supplicating for themselves, 
(especially seeing he invites and exhorts us to do so,) than to any 
advocacy of others to whom the timid have recourse, not without some 
semblance of despair, because they are distrustful of their father's 
mildness and clemency? The exuberance of his paternal kindness he 
sets before us in the parable, (Luke 15: 20; see Calv. Comm.) when 
the father with open arms receives the son who had gone away from 
him, wasted his substance in riotous living, and in all ways 
grievously sinned against him. He waits not till pardon is asked in 
words, but, anticipating the request, recognizes him afar off, runs 
to meet him, consoles him, and restores him to favour. By setting 
before us this admirable example of mildness in a man, he designed 
to show in how much greater abundance we may expect it from him who 
is not only a Father, but the best and most merciful of all fathers, 
however ungrateful, rebellious, and wicked sons we may be, provided 
only we throw ourselves upon his mercy. And the better to assure us 
that he is such a Father if we are Christians, he has been pleased 
to be called not only a Father, but our Father, as if we were 
pleading with him after this manner, O Father, who art possessed of 
so much affection for thy children, and art so ready to forgive, we 
thy children approach thee and present our requests, fully persuaded 
that thou hast no other feelings towards us than those of a father, 
though we are unworthy of such a parent.[24] But as our narrow 
hearts are incapable of comprehending such boundless favour, Christ 
is not only the earnest and pledge of our adoption, but also gives 
us the Spirit as a witness of this adoption, that through him we may 
freely cry aloud, Abba, Father. Whenever, therefore, we are 
restrained by any feeling of hesitation, let us remember to ask of 
him that he may correct our timidity, and placing us under the 
magnanimous guidance of the Spirit, enable us to pray boldly. 
    38. The instruction given us, however, is not that every 
individual in particular is to call him Father, but rather that we 
are all in common to call him Our Father. By this we are reminded 
how strong the feeling of brotherly love between us ought to be, 
since we are all alike, by the same mercy and free kindness, the 
children of such a Father. For if He from whom we all obtain 
whatever is good is our common Father, (Matth. 23: 9,) every thing 
which has been distributed to us we should be prepared to 
communicate to each other, as far as occasion demands. But if we are 
thus desirous as we ought, to stretch out our hands and give 
assistance to each other, there is nothing by which we can more 
benefit our brethren than by committing them to the care and 
protection of the best of parents, since if He is propitious and 
favourable nothing more can be desired. And, indeed, we owe this 
also to our Father. For as he who truly and from the heart loves the 
father of a family, extends the same love and good-will to all his 
household, so the zeal and affection which we feel for our heavenly 
Parent it becomes us to extend towards his people, his family, and, 
in fine, his heritage, which he has honoured so highly as to give 
them the appellation of the "fulness" of his only begotten Son," 
(Eph. 1: 23.) Let the Christian, then, so regulate his prayers as to 
make them common, and embrace all who are his brethren in Christ; 
not only those whom at present he sees and knows to be such, but all 
men who are alive upon the earth. What God has determined with 
regard to them is beyond our knowledge, but to wish and hope the 
best concerning them is both pious and humane. Still it becomes us 
to regard with special affection those who are of the household of 
faith, and whom the Apostle has in express terms recommended to our 
care in every thing, (Gal. 6: 10.) In short, all our prayers ought 
to bear reference to that community which our Lord has established 
in his kingdom and family. 
    39. This, however, does not prevent us from praying specially 
for ourselves, and certain others, provided our mind is not 
withdrawn from the view of this community, does not deviate from it, 
but constantly refers to it. For prayers, though couched in special 
terms, keeping that object still in view, cease not to be common. 
All this may easily be understood by analogy. There is a general 
command from God to relieve the necessities of all the poor, and yet 
this command is obeyed by those who with that view give succour to 
all whom they see or know to be in distress, although they pass by 
many whose wants are not less urgent, either because they cannot 
know or are unable to give supply to all. In this way there is 
nothing repugnant to the will of God in those who, giving heed to 
this common society of the Church, yet offer up particular prayers, 
in which, with a public mind, though in special terms, they commend 
to God themselves or others, with whose necessity he has been 
pleased to make them more familiarly acquainted. It is true that 
prayer and the giving of our substance are not in all respects 
alike. We can only bestow the kindness of our liberality on those of 
whose wants we are aware, whereas in prayer we can assist the 
greatest strangers, how wide soever the space which may separate 
them from us. This is done by that general form of prayer which, 
including all the sons of God, includes them also. To this we may 
refer the exhortation which Paul gave to the believers of his age, 
to lift up "holy hands without wrath and doubting," (1 Tim. 2: 8.) 
By reminding them that dissension is a bar to prayer, he shows it to 
be his wish that they should with one accord present their prayers 
in common. 
    40. The next words are, WHICH ART IN HEAVEN. From this we are 
not to infer that he is enclosed and confined within the 
circumference of heaven, as by a kind of boundaries. Hence Solomon 
confesses, "The heaven of heavens cannot contain thee," (1 Kings 8: 
27;) and he himself says by the Prophet, "The heaven is my throne, 
and the earth is my footstool," (Isa. 66: 1;) thereby intimating, 
that his presence, not confined to any region, is diffused over all 
space. But as our gross minds are unable to conceive of his 
ineffable glory, it is designated to us by _heaven_, nothing which 
our eyes can behold being so full of splendor and majesty. While, 
then, we are accustomed to regard every object as confined to the 
place where our senses discern it, no place can be assigned to God; 
and hence, if we would seek him, we must rise higher than all 
corporeal or mental discernment. Again, this form of expression 
reminds us that he is far beyond the reach of change or corruption, 
that he holds the whole universe in his grasp, and rules it by his 
power. The effect of the expressions therefore, is the same as if it 
had been said, that he is of infinite majesty, incomprehensible 
essence, boundless power, and eternal duration. When we thus speak 
of God, our thoughts must be raised to their highest pitch; we must 
not ascribe to him any thing of a terrestrial or carnal nature, must 
not measure him by our little standards, or suppose his will to be 
like ours. At the same time, we must put our confidence in him, 
understanding that heaven and earth are governed by his providence 
and power. In short, under the name of Father is set before us that 
God, who hath appeared to us in his own image, that we may invoke 
him with sure faith; the familiar name of Father being given not 
only to inspire confidence, but also to curb our minds, and prevent 
them from going astray after doubtful or fictitious gods. We thus 
ascend from the only begotten Son to the supreme Father of angels 
and of the Church. Then when his throne is fixed in heaven, we are 
reminded that he governs the world, and, therefore, that it is not 
in vain to approach him whose present care we actually experience. 
"He that cometh to God," says the Apostle, "must believe that he is, 
and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him," (Heb. 
11: 6.) Here Christ makes both claims for his Father, _first_, that 
we place our faith in him; and, _secondly_ ,that we feel assured 
that our salvation is not neglected by him, inasmuch as he 
condescends to extend his providence to us. By these elementary 
principles Paul prepares us to pray aright; for before enjoining us 
to make our requests known unto God, he premises in this way, "The 
Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing," (Phil. 4: 5, 6.) Whence it 
appears that doubt and perplexity hang over the prayers of those in 
whose minds the belief is not firmly seated, that "the eyes of the 
Lord are upon the righteous," (Ps. 34: 15.) 
    41. The first petition is, HALLOWED BE THY NAME. The necessity 
of presenting it bespeaks our great disgrace. For what can be more 
unbecoming than that our ingratitude and malice should impair, our 
audacity and petulance should as much as in them lies destroy, the 
glory of God? But though all the ungodly should burst with 
sacrilegious rage, the holiness of God's name still shines forth. 
Justly does the Psalmist exclaim, "According to thy name, O God, so 
is thy praise unto the ends of the earth," (Ps. 48: 10.) For 
wherever God hath made himself known, his perfections must be 
displayed, his power, goodness, wisdom, justice, mercy, and truth, 
which fill us with admiration, and incite us to show forth his 
praise. Therefore, as the name of God is not duly hallowed on the 
earth, and we are otherwise unable to assert it, it is at least our 
duty to make it the subject of our prayers. The sum of the whole is, 
It must be our desire that God may receive the honour which is his 
due: that men may never think or speak of him without the greatest 
reverence. The opposite of this reverence is profanity, which has 
always been too common in the world, and is very prevalent in the 
present day. Hence the necessity of the petition, which, if piety 
had any proper existence among us, would be superfluous. But if the 
name of God is duly hallowed only when separated from all other 
names it alone is glorified, we are in the petition enjoined to ask 
not only that God would vindicate his sacred name from all contempt 
and insult, but also that he would compel the whole human race to 
reverence it. Then since God manifests himself to us partly by his 
word, and partly by his works, he is not sanctified unless in regard 
to both of these we ascribe to him what is due, and thus embrace 
whatever has proceeded from him, giving no less praise to his 
justice than to his mercy. On the manifold diversity of his works he 
has inscribed the marks of his glory, and these ought to call forth 
from every tongue an ascription of praise. Thus Scripture will 
obtain its due authority with us, and no event will hinder us from 
celebrating the praises of God, in regard to every part of his 
government. On the other hand, the petition implies a wish that all 
impiety which pollutes this sacred name may perish and be 
extinguished, that every thing which obscures or impairs his glory, 
all detraction and insult, may cease; that all blasphemy being 
suppressed, the divine majesty may be more and more signally 
    42. The second petition is, THY KINGDOM COME. This contains 
nothing new, and yet there is good reason for distinguishing it from 
the first. For if we consider our lethargy in the greatest of all 
matters, we shall see how necessary it is that what ought to be in 
itself perfectly known should be inculcated at greater length. 
Therefore, after the injunction to pray that God would reduce to 
order, and at length completely efface every stain which is thrown 
on his sacred name, another petition, containing almost the same 
wish, is added, viz., Thy kingdom come. Although a definition of 
this kingdom has already been given, I now briefly repeat that God 
reigns when men, in denial of themselves and contempt of the world 
and this earthly life, devote themselves to righteousness and aspire 
to heaven, (see Calvin, Harm. Matth. 6:) Thus this kingdom consists 
of two parts; the first is, when God by the agency of his Spirit 
corrects all the depraved lusts of the flesh, which in bands war 
against Him; and the second, when he brings all our thoughts into 
obedience to his authority. This petition, therefore, is duly 
presented only by those who begin with themselves; in other words, 
who pray that they may be purified from all the corruptions which 
disturb the tranquillity and impair the purity of God's kingdom. 
Then as the word of God is like his royal sceptre, we are here 
enjoined to pray that he would subdue all minds and hearts to 
voluntary obedience. This is done when by the secret inspiration of 
his Spirit he displays the efficacy of his word, and raises it to 
the place of honour which it deserves. We must next descend to the 
wicked, who perversely and with desperate madness resist his 
authority. God, therefore, sets up his kingdom, by humbling the 
whole world, though in different ways, taming the wantonness of 
some, and breaking the ungovernable pride of others. We should 
desire this to be done every day, in order that God may gather 
churches to himself from all quarters of the world, may extend and 
increase their numbers, enrich them with his gifts, establish due 
order among them; on the other hand, beat down all the enemies of 
pure doctrine and religion, dissipate their counsels, defeat their 
attempts. Hence it appears that there is good ground for the precept 
which enjoins daily progress, for human affairs are never so 
prosperous as when the impurities of vice are purged away, and 
integrity flourishes in full vigor. The completion, however, is 
deferred to the final advent of Christ, when, as Paul declares, "God 
will be all in all," (1 Cor. 15: 28.) This prayer, therefore, ought 
to withdraw us from the corruptions of the world which separate us 
from God, and prevent his kingdom from flourishing within us; 
secondly, it ought to inflame us with an ardent desire for the 
mortification of the flesh; and, lastly, it ought to train us to the 
endurance of the cross; since this is the way in which God would 
have his kingdom to be advanced. It ought not to grieve us that the 
outward man decays provided the inner man is renewed. For such is 
the nature of the kingdom of God, that while we submit to his 
righteousness he makes us partakers of his glory. This is the case 
when continually adding to his light and truth, by which the lies 
and the darkness of Satan and his kingdom are dissipated, 
extinguished, and destroyed, he protects his people, guides them 
aright by the agency of his Spirit, and confirms them in 
perseverance; while, on the other hand, he frustrates the impious 
conspiracies of his enemies, dissipates their wiles and frauds, 
prevents their malice and curbs their petulance, until at length he 
consume Antichrist "with the spirit of his mouth," and destroy all 
impiety "with the brightness of his coming," (2 Thess. 2: 8, Calv. 
    43. The third petition is, THY WILL BE DONE ON EARTH AS IT IS 
IN HEAVEN. Though this depends on his kingdom, and cannot be 
disjoined from it, yet a separate place is not improperly given to 
it on account of our ignorance, which does not at once or easily 
apprehend what is meant by God reigning in the world. This, 
therefore, may not improperly be taken as the explanation, that God 
will be King in the world when all shall subject themselves to his 
will. We are not here treating of that secret will by which he 
governs all things, and destines them to their end, (see chap. 24: 
s. 17.) For although devils and men rise in tumult against him, he 
is able by his incomprehensible counsel not only to turn aside their 
violence, but make it subservient to the execution of his decrees. 
What we here speak of is another will of God, namely, that of which 
voluntary obedience is the counterpart; and, therefore, heaven is 
expressly contrasted with earth, because, as is said in The Psalms, 
the angels "do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his 
word," (Ps. 103: 20.) We are, therefore, enjoined to pray that as 
everything done in heaven is at the command of God, and the angels 
are calmly disposed to do all that is right, so the earth may be 
brought under his authority, all rebellion and depravity having been 
extinguished. In presenting this request we renounce the desires of 
the flesh, because he who does not entirely resign his affections to 
God, does as much as in him lies to oppose the divine will, since 
everything which proceeds from us is vicious. Again, by this prayer 
we are taught to deny ourselves, that God may rule us according to 
his pleasure; and not only so, but also having annihilated our own 
may create new thoughts and new minds so that we shall have no 
desire save that of entire agreement with his will; in short, wish 
nothing of ourselves, but have our hearts governed by his Spirit, 
under whose inward teaching we may learn to love those things which 
please and hate those things which displease him. Hence also we must 
desire that he would nullify and suppress all affections which are 
repugnant to his will. Such are the three first heads of the prayer, 
in presenting which we should have the glory of God only in view, 
taking no account of ourselves, and paying no respect to our own 
advantage, which, though it is thereby greatly promoted, is not here 
to be the subject of request. And though all the events prayed for 
must happen in their own time, without being either thought of, 
wished, or asked by us, it is still our duty to wish and ask for 
them. And it is of no slight importance to do so, that we may 
testify and profess that we are the servants and children of God, 
desirous by every means in our power to promote the honour due to 
him as our Lord and Father, and truly and thoroughly devoted to his 
service. Hence if men, in praying that the name of God may be 
hallowed, that his kingdom may come, and his will be done, are not 
influenced by this zeal for the promotion of his glory, they are not 
to be accounted among the servants and children of God; and as all 
these things will take place against their will, so they will turn 
out to their confusion and destruction. 
    44. Now comes the second part of the prayer, in which we 
descend to our own interests, not, indeed, that we are to lose sight 
of the glory of God, (to which, as Paul declares, we must have 
respect even in meat and drink, 1 Cor. 10: 31,) and ask only what is 
expedient for ourselves; but the distinction, as we have already 
observed, is this: God claiming the three first petitions as 
specially his own, carries us entirely to himself, that in this way 
he may prove our piety. Next he permits us to look to our own 
advantage, but still on the condition, that when we ask anything for 
ourselves it must be in order that all the benefits which he confers 
may show forth his glory, there being nothing more incumbent on us 
than to live and die to him. By the first petition of the second 
part, GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD, we pray in general that God 
would give us all things which the body requires in this sublunary 
state, not only food and clothing, but everything which he knows 
will assist us to eat our bread in peace. In this way we briefly 
cast our care upon him, and commit ourselves to his providence, that 
he may feed, foster, and preserve us. For our heavenly Father 
disdains not to take our body under his charge and protection, that 
he may exercise our faith in those minute matters, while we look to 
him for everything, even to a morsel of bread and a drop of water. 
For since, owing to some strange inequality, we feel more concern 
for the body than for the soul, many who can trust the latter to God 
still continue anxious about the former, still hesitate as to what 
they are to eat, as to how they are to be clothed, and are in 
trepidation whenever their hands are not filled with corn, and wine, 
and oil, so much more value do we set on this shadowy, fleeting 
life, than on a blessed immortality. But those who, trusting to God, 
have once cast away that anxiety about the flesh, immediately look 
to him for greater gifts, even salvation and eternal life. It is no 
slight exercise of faith, therefore, to hope in God for things which 
would otherwise give us so much concern; nor have we made little 
progress when we get quit of this unbelief, which cleaves, as it 
were, to our very bones. The speculations of some concerning 
supersubstantial bread seem to be very little accordant with our 
Savior's meaning; for our prayer would be defective were we not to 
ascribe to God the nourishment even of this fading life. The reason 
which they give is heathenish, viz., that it is inconsistent with 
the character of sons of God, who ought to be spiritual, not only to 
occupy their mind with earthly cares, but to suppose God also 
occupied with them. As if his blessing and paternal favour were not 
eminently displayed in giving us food, or as if there were nothing 
in the declaration that godliness hath "the promise of the life that 
now is, and of that which is to come," (1 Tim. 4: 8.) But although 
the forgiveness of sins is of far more importance than the 
nourishment of the body, yet Christ has set down the inferior in the 
prior place, in order that he might gradually raise us to the other 
two petitions, which properly belong to the heavenly life,--in this 
providing for our sluggishness. We are enjoined to ask _our bread_, 
that we may be contented with the measure which our heavenly Father 
is pleased to dispense, and not strive to make gain by illicit arts. 
Meanwhile, we must hold that the title by which it is ours is 
donation, because, as Moses says, (Levit. 26: 20, Deut. 8: 17,) 
neither our industry, nor labour, nor hands, acquire any thing for 
us, unless the blessing of God be present; nay, not even would 
abundance of bread be of the least avail were it not divinely 
converted into nourishment. And hence this liberality of God is not 
less necessary to the rich than the poor, because, though their 
cellars and barns were full, they would be parched and pine with 
want did they not enjoy his favour along with their bread. The terms 
_this day_, or, as it is in another Evangelist, _daily_, and also 
the epithet _daily_, lay a restraint on our immoderate desire of 
fleeting good--a desire which we are extremely apt to indulge to 
excess, and from which other evils ensue: for when our supply is in 
richer abundance we ambitiously squander it in pleasure, luxury, 
ostentation, or other kinds of extravagance. Wherefore, we are only 
enjoined to ask as much as our necessity requires, and as it were 
for each day, confiding that our heavenly Father, who gives us the 
supply of to-day, will not fail us on the morrow. How great soever 
our abundance may be, however well filled our cellars and granaries, 
we must still always ask for daily bread, for we must feel assured 
that all substance is nothing, unless in so far as the Lord, by 
pouring out his blessing, make it fruitful during its whole 
progress; for even that which is in our hand is not ours except in 
so far as he every hour portions it out, and permits us to use it. 
As nothing is more difficult to human pride than the admission of 
this truth, the Lord declares that he gave a special proof for all 
ages, when he fed his people with manna in the desert, (Deut. 8: 3,) 
that he might remind us that "man shall not live by bread alone, but 
by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God," (Matth. 4: 
4.) It is thus intimated, that by his power alone our life and 
strength are sustained, though he ministers supply to us by bodily 
instruments. In like manner, whenever it so pleases, he gives us a 
proof of an opposite description, by breaking the strength, or, as 
he himself calls it, the _staff_ of bread, (Levit. 26: 26,) and 
leaving us even while eating to pine with hunger, and while drinking 
to be parched with thirst. Those who, not contented with daily 
bread, indulge an unrestrained insatiable cupidity, or those who are 
full of their own abundance, and trust in their own riches, only 
mock God by offering up this prayer. For the former ask what they 
would be unwilling to obtain, nay, what they most of all abominate, 
namely, daily bread only, and as much as in them lies disguise their 
avarice from God, whereas true prayer should pour out the whole soul 
and every inward feeling before him. The latter, again, ask what 
they do not at all expect to obtain, namely, what they imagine that 
they in themselves already possess. In its being called _ours_, God, 
as we have already said, gives a striking display of his kindness, 
making that to be ours to which we have no just claim. Nor must we 
reject the view to which I have already adverted, viz., that this 
name is given to what is obtained by just and honest labour, as 
contrasted with what is obtained by fraud and rapine, nothing being 
our own which we obtain with injury to others. When we ask God to 
_give us_, the meaning is, that the thing asked is simply and freely 
the gift of God, whatever be the quarter from which it comes to us, 
even when it seems to have been specially prepared by our own art 
and industry, and procured by our hands, since it is to his blessing 
alone that all our labors owe their success. 

Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Vol. 3, Part 24

(continued in part 25...)

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