Posted by: rcottrill | August 30, 2013

Did You Think to Pray?

Words: Mary Ann Pepper Kidder (b. Mar. 16, 1820; d. Nov. 25, 1905)
Music: William Oscar Perkins (b. May 23, 1831; d. Jan. 13, 1902)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Mary Ann Kidder, and William Perkins)
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: This song was first published in 1876. Considering that the author is said to have written about a thousand songs, we know little about Mary Ann Pepper–who became Mrs. Kidder. Reportedly, she lost her sight in her teens, but later regained at least a measure of it. The Cyber Hymnal lists one hundred and sixty-nine of her songs, and Hymnary.org has a long list here, as well.

The usually reliable Phil Kerr (Music in Evangelism, p. 130) says Mrs. Kidder was a Baptist, who lived her entire life in Massachusetts. We do know she was born in Boston, and that she died and is buried in Massachusetts too. But other sources say she lived forty-six years in New York City, and that she attended a Methodist Episcopal church.

Part of the reason she has been almost forgotten is perhaps because most of her songs are no longer in use. Is My Name Written There? (i.e. in the Book of Life, cf. Rev. 20:15) is one that we see in modern hymn books. And a few have Did You Think to Pray? I can recall a recording of George Beverley Shea singing the latter song, which may account for its endurance.

Both of these songs ask challenging (and convicting!) questions. Regarding prayer, David the psalmist promises the Lord, “My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning I will direct it to You, and will look up” (Ps. 5:3). Prayer is our lifeline to heaven. We do well to make it a practice to begin the day with God. As someone has put it, “Seven days without prayer make one weak!”

CH-1) Ere you left your room this morning,
Did you think to pray?
In the name of Christ our Saviour,
Did you sue for loving favour,
As a shield today?

O how praying rests the weary!
Prayer will change the night to day;
So when life seems dark and dreary,
Don’t forget to pray.

The Lord Jesus said, “Men always ought to pray and not lose heart” (Lk. 18:1). We are to “pray without ceasing” (I Thess. 5:17). We should be “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” (Eph. 6:18). In fact, it’s interesting that of thirty-nine uses of the word “always” in the epistles (NKJV) thirteen of them have to do with prayer–many times prayers of thanksgiving. Indeed, we “always ought to pray”!

No, not twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. That’s not the meaning of First Thessalonians 5:17. The idea there is that We should have a ready sense of God’s presence through the day. We should have the chronic  habit of prayer, that we should pray consistently, faithfully, and fervently (Eph. 5:16). Our prayers should include worship, praise and thanksgiving, confession of sin, as well as supplication and intercession.

As Bible-believing Christians, we surely know that. But do we pray? Are sessions of prayer a part of our daily lives? And do we go through the day in a spirit of prayer, so that conversation with our heavenly Father is natural in the moment, whenever it’s needed or the Spirit prompts us. Nehemiah provides us with examples, both of a season of prayer (Neh. 1:4), and an instant prayer in a critical situation (Neh. 2:4-5).

Mary Ann Kidder illustrates the need for situational prayer, in times when we are met with “great temptation” (CH-2) and times when we have an angry reaction to someone who has hurt us (CH-3), an anger that could easily turn to lingering bitter resentment.

CH-2) When you met with great temptation,
Did you think to pray?
By His dying love and merit,
Did you claim the Holy Spirit
As your guide and stay?

CH-4 makes reference to a “balm in Gilead.” Gilead, just east of the Jordan, was famous for its healing ointment (or balm), made from the storax tree (cf. Gen. 37:25; Jer. 46:11). When a person had a hurt, someone might say, “There is a balm nearby in Gilead that could help you.”

This healing medication was used as a symbol of the need for a spiritual cure, in Jeremiah 8:21-22. Jeremiah was grieving and weeping (9:1), because Israel had turned from God to idols (8:19), and they were suffering for it. They needed the healing balm of the Lord’s cleansing and forgiveness, but it would only be theirs if they repented and turned back to Him.

4) When sore trials came upon you,
Did you think to pray?
When your soul was bowed in sorrow,
Balm of Gilead did you borrow
At the gates of day?

Questions:
1) Did you think to pray this morning?

2) What is the most recent answer to prayer you have experienced?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Mary Ann Kidder, and William Perkins)
The Cyber Hymnal


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