Prayers Answered by the Crosses

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I ask’d the Lord, that I might grow in faith, and love, and ev’ry grace,
Might more of his salvation know, and seek more earnestly his face.

‘Twas he who taught me thus to pray, and he, I trust has answer’d pray’r;
But it has been in such a way, as almost drove me to despair.

I hop’d that in some favour’d hour, at once he’d answer my request:
And by his love’s constraining pow’r, subdue my sins, and give me rest.

Instead of this. he made me feel the hidden evils of my heart;
And let the angry pow’rs of hell assault my soul in ev’ry part.

Yea more, with his own hand he seem’d intent to aggravate my woe;
Cross’d all the fair designs I schem’d, blasted my gourds, and laid me low.

Lord, why is this, I trembling cry’d, wilt thou pursue thy worm to death?”
‘Tis in this way,” the Lord reply’d, “I answer pray’r for grace and faith.

These inward trials I employ, from self and pride to set thee free;
And break thy schemes of earthly joy, that thou mayst seek thy all in me.”

John Newton

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One response »

  1. I love this poem by John Newton. God works in our hearts to turn us to desire Him, so we ask for His transforming grace to work in us. But often, when it works, we question the way. We question the means He’s using. God, why migraines? why exhaustion? why unanswered open doors at work? why can’t I run anymore? why will my leg not heal completely? why can’t I still be teaching? why am I not married? God, why?

    Like John Newton, I ask and hope that God will simply bring triumph over sin and sweet rest. Instead, I see more sin. As I fight to mortify, the sins multiply before my eyes. As I battle my flesh, it seems to grow more powerful. The battle seems that the only option is to give up in defeat. I look at my ability and see only hopeless despair. God, why bring me to this point? Why bring me low? Don’t you promise sweet peace and for faith to increase??

    what?? what is that you say? My all must be laid on the altar of sacrifice? I must give it all to you? To know more of you, there must be less of me?

    In the trials, I’m tempted to question God’s ways. But He lovingly reminds that the purpose is for my dependance to be on Him – that is where peace comes from. That is where rest is found – Rest in full trusting childlike faith-filled dependence on my Savior to lead and guide.

    He leads me through these deep waters, so that my trust will not be in my ability, for that is not what is best. He wants something greater for me, but He must first strip me of myself. In order for Him to be Lord, He must remove my desire for control. He must lay me low. He must batter my heart.

    But He doesn’t leave me battered. It’s there… broken at the foot of the cross that hope is found. It’s there that life truly begins.

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