Posted by: rcottrill | November 22, 2017

Pray, Always Pray

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Words: Edward Henry Bickersteth, Jr. (b. Jan. 25, 1825; d. May 16, 1906)
Music: Pax Tecum, by George Thomas Caldbeck (b. _____, 1852; d. Jan. 29, 1918)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Edward Bickersteth)
The Cyber Hymnal (Edward Bickersteth)
Hymnary.org

Note: Edward Bickersteth was a pastor, hymn writer, and hymn book editor. He wrote at least thirty hymns. The tune for the present hymn is also used with another of his songs, Peace, Perfect Peace.

After traveling through the Canadian North in the 1880’s, pioneering anthropologist Franz Boas claimed the Eskimos (Inuit) had fifty different words for snow–hard snow, soft snow, heavy snow, light snow, icy snow, watery snow, and so on. Boas’s claim was debated for a time, but more recent study has proven him right.

Living with an abundance of snow for most of the year led the people to adopt words that made important distinctions in what they were dealing with. It’s surely the same with many different areas of expertise. A doctor, for example, will have many different and distinguishing terms for a pain, or a cough. Defining these conditions more precisely points the way to the most effective treatment.

In the spiritual realm, the Bible’s discussion of prayer similarly uses many different terms. Some form of the word “prayer” is found there more than three hundred times. But there are other words too: supplication, intercession, confession, worship, praise, thanksgiving, plus more general words–ask, seek, plead, and so on–that may be related to prayer.

However, that’s not to suggest that the subject is complicated and difficult to understand. In simple terms, prayer is talking to God. Even a child can grasp that, and children can pray sincerely and meaningfully. Prayer is one half of a conversation with God, of which the Bible, in which He speaks to us, is the other half.

Prayers can be audible or silent. Even a wordless cry of anguish lifted heavenward, in a time of severe trial, can be a prayer. We should all have a set time each day to read God’s Word and pray, but we can also talk to God through the day, sending up flash prayers of gratitude or expressing a need.

Prayers can be private or public, formal (even written down) or informal (off the cuff). There are examples in the Word of God of people praying standing up, kneeling down, lying in bed, or even chained in prison. Jonah is unique in that he prayed to the Lord from the belly of a great sea creature (Jon. 2:1-9)!

Prayer is a definite act, not just an attitude. But it’s founded on an attitude of faith, trust and confidence in God, and on the many promises of God. Scripture says:

“Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Heb. 11:6).

The Lord Jesus taught His followers that they should pray in His name (Jn. 16:24), that is in His authority–just as we take a cheque to the bank and ask for money on the authority of the one who has signed it. “For through Him [Christ] we both [Jew and Gentile] have access by one Spirit to the Father” (Eph. 2:18).

This hymn of Pastor Bickersteth’s, little known now, is called Pray, Always Pray. It presents, in seven short stanzas, many important truths about our subject. The title phrase is repeated in every stanza, urging us to pray. This is in accord with the Bible which says, “Men always ought to pray and not lose heart” (Lk. 18:1), and “pray without ceasing [i.e. habitually]” (I Thess. 5:17).

Here are some stanzas of the hymn, with Scriptures inserted relating to the points covered.

1) Pray, always pray; the Holy Spirit pleads
Within thee all thy daily, hourly needs. [Rom. 8:26]

2) Pray, always pray; beneath sin’s heaviest load,
Prayer sees the blood from Jesus’ side that flowed. [Eph. 1:7]

4) Pray, always pray; amid the world’s turmoil,
Prayer keeps the heart at rest, and nerves for toil. [Phil. 4:6-7]

5) Pray, always pray; if joys thy pathway throng,
Prayer strikes the harp, and sings the angels’ song. [Ps. 28:7]

7) All earthly things with earth shall pass away;
Prayer grasps eternity; pray, always pray. [II Cor. 5:1; Rev. 21:1-5]

Questions:
1) Do you ever say to someone, “I’ll pray for you about that”? (Great! But, if so, make sure you keep your promise.)

2) Do you have a prayer list to remind you to pray about various things? (If not, how about jotting one down.)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Edward Bickersteth)
The Cyber Hymnal (Edward Bickersteth)
Hymnary.org


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