Posted by: rcottrill | May 23, 2012

Moments of Prayer

Words: Frances Jane (“Fanny) Crosby (b. Mar. 24, 1820; d. Feb. 12, 1915)
Music: William Howard Doane (b. Feb. 3, 1832; d. Dec. 23, 1915)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: This lesser known song of Fanny Crosby’s sometimes uses the opening phrase as the title, Here from the World We Turn. If you don’t know the tune, you can substitute Bethany (traditionally used with Nearer, My God, to Thee) for Doane’s melody. In the Wordwise Hymns link, there’s an amusing story about its use by the quartet trained by my father, Edward Cottrill.

This song was apparently written to accompany “moments of prayer” at the beginning of a gospel meeting, or revival meeting. Of course it’s to be hoped the congregants weren’t ignoring the Lord before this and living worldly lives. But there is, even in a godly life, a sense that there are times when we need to turn from the daily routine and pressures of life, to meet with the Lord in a special and more focused way.

Even the Lord Jesus, our prefect Example, needed to do that. Admired and followed and flocked by crowds of people who saw Him as a great Wonder Worker, He frequently broke away to engage in times of solitary prayer with His heavenly Father.

“The report [of Christ’s healing of a leper] went around concerning Him all the more; and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by Him of their infirmities. So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed” (Lk. 5:15-16; cf. Matt. 14:23; Lk. 6:12; Mk. 1:35-39; Jn. 16:15).

CH-1) Here from the world we turn, Jesus to seek;
Here may His loving voice tenderly speak!
Jesus, our dearest Friend, while at Thy feet we bend,
O let Thy smile descend! ’Tis Thee we seek.

There is, in these times apart with the Lord, an opportunity to assess and refocus our priorities, as well as the opportunity to seek grace and mercy at the throne of God (Heb. 4:15-16).

Whether or not the Lord moves sovereignly, and in a special way, in a church or a community, bringing widespread revival, we each need a fresh and revitalizing touch from the Lord. As Philips paraphrase has it, the world is constantly trying to “squeeze [us] into its own mould” (Rom. 12:2). The prophet Hosea’s call for revival in Israel echoes down the years:

“Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the LORD, till He comes and rains righteousness on you” (Hos. 10:12).

CH-2) Come, holy Comforter, Presence divine,
Now in our longing hearts graciously shine;
O for Thy mighty power! O for a blessèd shower,
Filling this hallowed hour with joy divine!

Fanny’s concluding stanza may reflect a common view that “Revival Meetings” are for evangelizing the lost. But one cannot be revived and renewed unless there is spiritual life there to begin with. The call to revival is best suited to backslidden believers. Those who are “dead in sin” are, according to Ephesians, “children of wrath” (Eph. 2:1-3). They need salvation, not revival. However, it’s true that even in gatherings of God’s people, there may be non-Christians present. An appeal can therefore be made to both.

CH-3) Saviour, Thy work revive; here may we see
Those who are dead in sin quickened by Thee;
Come to our hearts tonight, make every burden light;
Cheer Thou our waiting sight; we long for Thee.

Questions:
1) What part can our heritage of hymns and gospel songs play in refocusing our thoughts on Sunday mornings?

2) What are the essential keys of being in the world but not of the world?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


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