In my article last Sunday, I mentioned incorporating hymns into your personal devotion. Here are seven prayer hymns that have blessed believers over the centuries.
1. Sweet Hour of Prayer
This hymn was written by a blind pastor named William Walford in the mid-nineteenth century. Though he was blind, his mind was very active. He wrote this hymn to emphasize the importance of personal quiet time with God. When we retreat into our prayer closet, we leave the cares and worries of this world behind. First published in The Observer on September 13, 1845, I especially love how this hymn reminds us that when we’re finally face-to-face with God, we will say goodbye to prayer as we know it here on earth!
2. What a Friend We Have in Jesus
Joseph M. Scriven wrote this hymn in 1855 as a poem to comfort his ill mother who lived in Ireland while he lived in Canada, too far away to go and be with her. Joseph himself had lost two fiancées, and knew from experience that we have a matchless friend in Jesus. Are you overwhelmed? Do you feel alone? Do you feel misunderstood? Are you tempted? Jesus said, “Come unto Me, all who are weary, and I will give you rest.” Take it to the Lord in prayer; you will find a solace there.
3. Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah
William Williams wrote the Welsh words to this hymn in 1745, and we have Peter Williams to thank for the English interpretation. This is a direct prayer to God, asking for his guidance, the strength of His mighty arm to uphold, manna to sustain, and His abiding presence by day and by night. It is He who causes our fears to subside. His healing grace will ever flow as we pray to Him night and day – not just for our sakes, but for His own Name’s sake – and at the end of life He will receive us into glory.
4. I Need Thee Every Hour
This hymn is much beloved for its poignant sincerity. Again in direct prayer to God, the believer acknowledges that he is nothing without God and asks for His presence, where there is purpose, comfort and the strength to resist temptation. Annie Hawks said that this hymn came to her one day in 1872 when as a 37-year-old wife and mother she was busy with her regular household tasks. Suddenly a sense of the Master’s nearness filled her, and she penned the timeless words.
5. Take My Life and Let It Be
On February 4, 1874, Frances Havergal wrote this precious hymn after God had just heard a prayer she made while visiting a house where some were Christians living without the joy of the lord, and some were unconverted. She prayed, “Lord, give me all in this house,” and God answered before she left, blessing every last one. When you experience the power of a consecrated life, you too will be moved to lay your all before God so that He can use you for His glory!
6. Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing
Robert Robinson wrote this hymn in 1757. Yet another prayer to God Almighty, the hymn acknowledges all that God has done, and asks Him to help us be truly grateful. It beseeches Him to continue with us in grace and favour, and to seal our hearts – so prone to wander – for Himself. My favourite verse is the second, because of the reference to 1 Samuel 7:12. I am full of testimonies of God’s goodness and unfailing love, and I have cause to raise a stone of help every so often, for thus far has God helped me! What about you?
7. I Must Tell Jesus
In 1893, Elisha Hoffman visited a Christian woman who was going through seasons of affliction and sorrow. Discouraged, she asked him what she could do. He shared God’s Word with her, and then added, “You cannot do better than to take all of your sorrows to Jesus. You must tell Jesus.” When he got home, he wrote this beautiful hymn. We have a compassionate High Priest who lives ever to make intercession for us. Cast all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.
Sing and pray!