Yesterday at Redeemer, we sang a little number by Johnny Newton (not to be confused with Jimmy Neutron) called “I asked the Lord.” It might have been one of the more challenging songs I’ve sung before (next to Jesus I My Cross Have Taken).
It reads very much like a story, and since I had never sung it before, it had me wondering where each stanza would lead me.
The song begins with a fairly simple request to grow in faith and grace. The next verses then deal with how God answers such a prayer; He will often allow or even throw trials our way to get us to depend upon Him. And sometimes those trials are such that we are barely able to stand up under them.
Nevertheless God’s ultimate plan is to destroy our earthly plans and pursuits of lesser joy, only to find that greater joy in knowing Him (i.e. Parable of Hidden Treasure in Matt 13).
I have to admit that while singing the song, each verse was harder to sing (spiritually), than the previous. It kept mentioning how the Lord would bring more trouble, when all the writer asked for was “grace and faith.” I was desperate to land on Jesus. It reminded me of rafting down a windy river with little visibility, just praying to find the take-out site.
But I needed the hymn to first take me on a “journey” to forsake my earthly hope (which is rubbish) and to find life in Christ. That’s how he grows our faith. And I think that’s been a little picture of what he’s been doing in me while I’ve been temporarily separated from my family.
Check out the lyrics below. I hope you get a chance to read them or even sing them some day.
I Asked the Lord
©2004 double v music (ASCAP). Words: John Newton (alt. Laura Taylor). Music: Laura Taylor.
1. I asked the Lord that I might grow In faith and love and every grace Might more of His salvation know And seek more earnestly His face
2. Twas He who taught me thus to pray And He I trust has answered prayer But it has been in such a way As almost drove me to despair
3. I hoped that in some favored hour At once He’d answer my request And by His love’s constraining power Subdue my sins and give me rest
4. Instead of this He made me feel The hidden evils of my heart And let the angry powers of Hell Assault my soul in every part
5. Yea more with His own hand He seemed Intent to aggravate my woe Crossed all the fair designs I schemed, Cast out my feelings, laid me low
6. Lord why is this, I trembling cried Wilt Thou pursue thy worm to death? “Tis in this way” The Lord replied “I answer prayer for grace and faith”
7. “These inward trials I employ From self and pride to set thee free And break thy schemes of earthly joy That thou mayest seek thy all in me.