Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Prayer in Poetry

   Charles Wesley knew how to pray.  He was known to pray with such confidence for the convicted criminals on death row that he would raise his hands and say, "We shall have them all!" And then go to the gallows and win them to Christ.

   When I read these lines from one of his poems, they struck me as a beautiful balance between effectual fervent prayer and submission to the will of God in matters where his will is not obvious.  In the midst of a passionate prayer for the healing of a sick friend, he says:

                                                Humbly prostrate at Thy feet,
                                                We our will to Thine submit;
                                                Yet, before Thy will is shown,
                                                Trembling we present our own.

   I am reminded of David's earnest prayer for his son, who nonetheless died.  Until David knew of a certain what God's will was in the matter, he did as Charles Wesley, and presented his own.

The full poem:

Lover, Friend of Human Kind

Lover, friend of human kind,
Call Thy days of flesh to mind,
When Thou didst our sorrows bear,
All our sinless frailties share.

When Thou didst converse below,
Every shape of human woe,
Every supplicant in pain
Could Thy ready help obtain.

Melted by Thy creature’s tears,
Troubled with our griefs and fears,
Pity made Thy Spirit groan,
Made our miseries Thine own.

None applied in vain to Thee;
Thy Divine philanthropy
Cheer’d the faint, the hungry fed,
Heal’d the sick, and raised the dead.

Hear us then, Thou Man of grief,
O make haste to our relief,
After Thee for help we cry,
Come, before our sister die.

Jesus, evermore the same,
Manifest Thy saving name,
Good Physician from above,
Heal the object of Thy love.

Humbly prostrate at Thy feet,
We our will to Thine submit;
Yet, before Thy will is shown,
Trembling we present our own.

Till Thy love’s design we _see_,
Earnest, but resign’d to Thee,
Suffer us for life to pray,
Bless us with her longer stay.

Let the balm be now applied,
Touch her, and the fever chide,
Now command it to depart,
Sprinkle now her peaceful heart.

Thou with equal ease and skill
Canst the soul and body heal:
Raise her, Lord, the vessel raise
Of Thine all-sufficient grace.

Let her long a witness live
That Thou canst on earth forgive,
Live, Thine utmost love to see,
Live to serve Thy church and Thee.

Then, when all her work is done,
Thou Thy faithful servant crown,
Take her, Jesus, to Thy breast,
Take us all to endless rest.

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