A Hymn for the 60th Annual Observance of the National Day of Prayer

I know that the proposed theme for this year’s National Day of Prayer, which is today by the way, is A Mighty Fortress Is Our God. That’s a great hymn and one that truly inspires me as I sing it, but in light of the spiritual climate of USAmerica and the recent decision by yet another liberal activist judge that the National Day of Prayer is unConstitutional, I suggest another hymn is preferable.

Written by William Walform in 1845, Sweet Hour of Prayer, relates a sentiment I cannot help but feel has been lost in today’s culture-saturated Church. I mean, how many of us would dedicate an hour of fervent prayer to God… and like it?

The Bible speaks incessantly of the importance and power of prayer. We are promised that the fervent, effectual prayer of a righteous man availeth much (James 5:16). By way of example, we are shown how Elijah prayed in faith and the heavens did not rain for 3 1/2 years (James 5:17). No wonder we are commanded to pray with out ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17)!

But today, we are more like those God laments over through the prophet Isaiah:

“We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes: we stumble at noonday as in the night; we are in desolate places as dead men. We roar all like bears, and mourn sore like doves: we look for judgment, but there is none; for salvation, butit is far off from us.

For our transgressions are multiplied before thee, and our sins testify against us: for our transgressions are with us; and as forour iniquities, we know them; In transgressing and lying against the LORD, and departing away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood.

And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey:

and the LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment. And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him.” (Isaiah 59:10-16)

Yet another oft-quoted verse reminds us that there is yet hope, if we are willing to humble ourselves, confess our sin, repent of our sin, seek God’s face… and pray.

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

USAmerica is at the crossroads. It is the Church who must intercede for her. It is the Church who must seek God’s face, repent of our complacency and worldliness, our prideful self-centeredness and tolerance of sin and compromise. It is the Church who must intercede and pray if USAmerica is to be saved from God’s sure judgment. Yet we become less Christian every day for all of the energy we pour into allegedly “Christian” pursuits. (“Christian” breath mints, for crying out loud! Really?) Yet where are those who witness their faith in more than Christian branding and good living (Do you really want to give them the impression they can go to Heaven by being a good person, or do you want to break down, risk the friendship for a chance to gain a spiritual sibling, and tell them the truth?)? Where are those who speak the truth in love even when it’s unpopular? Where are those who are brother’s and sister’s keepers? Where are those who love the Word so dearly they can’t get enough of it? 

And where are the intercessors who pray for their families, the sleeping giant we call the Church and this nation?

Walford’s wonderful hymn inspires us, reminds us of the purpose and effectiveness of prayer and that one day prayer will become completely unecessary. But until that day, it is, next to revealed Scripture and the Spirit Himself, our greatest resource as born-again Christians:

  1. Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
    That calls me from a world of care,
    And bids me at my Father’s throne
    Make all my wants and wishes known.
    In seasons of distress and grief,
    My soul has often found relief,
    And oft escaped the tempter’s snare,
    By thy return, sweet hour of prayer!
  2. Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
    The joys I feel, the bliss I share,
    Of those whose anxious spirits burn
    With strong desires for thy return!
    With such I hasten to the place
    Where God my Savior shows His face,
    And gladly take my station there,
    And wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!
  3. Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
    Thy wings shall my petition bear
    To Him whose truth and faithfulness
    Engage the waiting soul to bless.
    And since He bids me seek His face,
    Believe His Word and trust His grace,
    I’ll cast on Him my every care,
    And wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!
  4. Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
    May I thy consolation share,
    Till, from Mount Pisgah’s lofty height,
    I view my home and take my flight.
    This robe of flesh I’ll drop, and rise
    To seize the everlasting prize,
    And shout, while passing through the air,
    “Farewell, farewell, sweet hour of prayer!”

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