Posted by: rcottrill | June 13, 2012

Come, My Soul, Thy Suit Prepare

Words: John Newton (b. July 24, 1725; d. Dec. 21, 1807)
Music: Hendon, by Henri Abraham Cesar Malan (b. July 7, 1787; May 18, 1864)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: The Cyber Hymnal offers a number of possible tunes for this hymn. Hendon, to which we also sing Take My Life and Let It Be, works well. There were seven stanzas in the original. Commonly CH-3 and 5 are omitted today. The poetry of the latter is a bit awkward, but it is unfortunate to lose CH-3. Especially in times of private devotion, it is important to deal with sin in our lives.

CH-3) With my burden I begin:
Lord, remove this load of sin;
Let Thy blood, for sinners spilt,
Set my conscience free from guilt.

The hymn was first published in Newton’s Olney Hymns, in 1779. A century later, it was used often by the great Baptist preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Before times of prayer in the services of the great Tabernacle, Spurgeon would have the congregation sing a stanza or two, softly. (And all singing in the Tabernacle was done without instrumental accompaniment.)

I wonder what the modern reader will think of when seeing the opening line of this fine hymn (also used as the title). Perhaps dry-cleaning or pressing an article of clothing! But Newton is using the word as we would in speaking of a law suit. He means an argument or an appeal. He is calling upon us to prepare a prayer list, things we want to ask the Lord to grant us. The hymn takes its inspiration from Jehovah God’s words to Solomon at the beginning of his reign:

The LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask! What shall I give you?” (I Kgs. 3:5).

In laying our requests before God, we are responding personally to that question. And what assurances do we have, as we come to the place of prayer? We are assured that the Lord Himself has invited us (indeed, commanded us) to pray (Phil. 4:6), and that He loves to answer prayer (Ps. 37:4; Prov. 15:8, 29; CH-1). The second stanza provides a wonderful declaration of heavenly abundance.

CH-2) Thou art coming to a King,
Large petitions with thee bring;
For His grace and power are such,
None can ever ask too much.

Having established heaven’s bounty (cf. Phil. 4:19), what sort of things should we pray for? (And I’m thinking here of personal requests. I realize our prayers should also include intercession for the needs of others.)

We can confess our sins to Him and seek His forgiveness (I Jn. 1:9; CH-3). We can pray for rest of spirit, serenity in trying times (Matt. 11:28-30), and we can pray that God would reign as Lord of all in our lives (Ps. 40:8; 143:10; cf. Lk. 6:46; CH-4). We can pray that He would guide and guard us on life’s journey (Ps. 31:3; Prov. 3:5-7), and grant us joy in living for Him and serving Him (Jn. 16:24; Rom. 14:17; Gal. 5:22; Phil. 4:4; CH-6). We can pray that the Lord would show us how to spend each day, giving us enabling grace to do it, and increasing our faith in Him (II Cor. 12:9; Heb. 4:15-16; CH-7).

CH-6) While I am a pilgrim here,
Let Thy love my spirit cheer;
As my Guide, my Guard, my Friend,
Lead me to my journey’s end.

CH-7) Show me what I have to do,
Every hour my strength renew:
Let me live a life of faith,
Let me die Thy people’s death.

1) Given the invitation to pray, and the Lord’s wisdom, love and power, why are so many of us lacking in a consistent prayer life?

2) In your view, what things are most commonly missing in the content of our prayers?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


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