Seek First the Kingdom by Thomas Manton
Excerpt from Voices from the Past: Puritan Devotional Readings
"But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." -Matthew 6:33
Until we get our hearts out of the world, how easily our hearts are carried away with the thoughts of earthly concerns! Until we can separate and purge our spirits, how we mingle our prayers with many ridiculous thoughts! It is too usual for us to deal with God as an unskilled person that will gather a posy for his friend, and put in as many or more stinking weeds than he does choice flowers. The flesh introduces, and our carnal hearts insert and interlace our prayers with vain thoughts and earthly distractions. Then, when we come to offer incense to God with our censer, we mingle sulphur with our incense. Therefore, we should always labour to get our hearts above the world into the presence of God, as if we were by him in heaven, and wholly swallowed up with his glory. Though our bodies are on earth, our spirits should be in heaven. Until we get above the mists of the world, we
can see nothing of clearness and comfort; but when we can get God and our hearts together, then we can see there is much in the fountain, though nothing in the stream; and though little on earth, yet we have a God in heaven! This is our great aim, to be with God in heaven. His residence is there, and we seek that our hearts might be there. We have liberty to ask supplies for the outward life, but chiefly we should ask spiritual and heavenly things: â€˜First, seek the kingdom of Godâ€™ etc.. If God is our heavenly Father, our first and main care should be to ask things suitable to his being, and his excellencies. When we ask supplies of the outward life, food and raiment, God may give it to us, but it is far more pleasing to him when we ask for grace. In every prayer we should seek to be made more heavenly minded by conversing with our heavenly Father.
Thomas Manton, Works, i:60-62