Posted by: rcottrill | July 22, 2016

The Hour of Prayer

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Words: Frances Jane (“Fanny”) Crosby (b. Mar. 24, 1820; d. Feb. 12, 1915)
Music: John Robson Sweney (b. Dec. 31, 1837; d. Apr. 10, 1899)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Fanny Crosby)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: The date of this hymn’s publication is uncertain, but early printings have a copyright date of 1907. A quick look at some hymns of Fanny Crosby yielded a dozen on the subject of prayer. One says:

‘Tis the blessèd hour of prayer,
When our hearts lowly bend,
And we gather to Jesus,
Our Saviour and Friend.

Another asks, pertinently:

Won’t you pray, won’t you pray,
For some loved one lost in sin’s dark way?
Won’t you pray, won’t you pray,
For some dear one who has gone astray?

The question is, if we won’t, why won’t we?

The horse and buggy days are no longer with us. They were phased out about a century ago. If you look at a photograph of the main street of a country town from those days, you’ll likely see a mixture. Some horses tethered in front of stores, and a scattering of Model T’s parked too. But soon the animals were gone. Do you want them back?

Antique stores, to some extent, trade in nostalgia, with their butter churns, spinning wheels, coal oil lamps and more. But would we really want to go back to churning our own butter, and spinning our own yarn? It’s easy to look back to those times with the proverbial rose-coloured glasses, and wish we were there. However, not everything about the good old days was good.

Women didn’t have the vote federally, in Canada, until 1918–aboriginal women were disenfranchised until 1960. Diseases that are now treatable were a fearful scourge. There was no penicillin, and no polio vaccine. In homes, there was no electricity, no central heating or air conditioning. There was no radio or television either–though some might argue the presence of those is a mixed blessing!

But surely some things we miss today were worthwhile. There are some things we wish could be brought back. It may be different where you are, but regular family times around the dinner table seem more of a rarity now. Leisurely times of conversation and, in Christian homes, times of family devotions, of prayer and reading the Scriptures, aren’t as common now. We each have our own schedules, things to do, places to go, and we often eat on the run.

Visiting in one another’s homes seems not to be as frequent, either. When I was young, rarely a week went by that we didn’t have folks in, or we visited elsewhere. Now, we’re all so busy, and our activities pull us apart. It’s a sad loss.

Another relic of the past, at least in some churches, is the mid-week Prayer Meeting. Does yours still have one? How many come? In many churches that have one, churches well attended on Sunday mornings, only a handful come to Prayer Meeting. I know of one pastor who renamed that meeting the Company of the Committed, which says a lot.

Where are the times of corporate prayer in which believers pray together with passion and purpose, where they storm the gates of heaven with an earnestness which cannot be denied (Jas. 5:16), where they pray about things that really matter (cf. Acts 4:29). Praying for Mrs. Snapgirdle’s gall bladder is fine, but what about the spiritual needs of those around us?

Prayer is one of the first things mentioned as an activity of the early Christians, after the church was born (Acts 2:42), and it comes up at least thirty times in the book of Acts.

The present hymn is yet another of Fanny’s which expresses delight in meeting with God’s people for prayer. Called The Hour of Prayer, it says:

CH-1) Glory to God for the joy to meet
Here at the hour of prayer;
Welcome the bliss of communion sweet
Here at the hour of prayer!

Nearer the gate to the soul’s bright home,
Nearer the vales where the faithful roam,
Nearer to God and the Lamb we come,
Here at the hour of prayer.

CH-3) Rich are the blessings that all may seek
Here at the hour of prayer;
Grace for the weary, the faint, the weak,
Here at the hour of prayer.”

“Men [and women too] always ought to pray and not lose heart” (Lk. 18:1). May we be those who unite regularly in “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit” (Eph. 6:18).

Questions:
1) What are some reasons why attendance at the mid-week Prayer Meeting has been declining?

2) What can be done to give a boost to the mid-week Prayer Meeting in your church?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Fanny Crosby)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org


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