The end of Prayer?

by Jim on 29 July 2012

I was recently reminded the hymn Sweet Hour of Prayer.  I had forgotten all about the last verse, which is quite something.

The hymn was written by William Walford, who was a blind preacher in England.  Apparently he had the reputation of "knowing the whole Bible by heart".

I love how Walford connects the future return of the Lord with the present "hour of prayer" throughout the hymn.  This culminates in the final stanza – till, from Mount Pisgah’s lofty height, I view my home and take my flight…

Mt. Pisgah is, of course, the place where Moses looked out over the land of Canaan – a land he would never enter (Deuteronomy 34).  Canaan would be the fulfillment of God’s promises, and Walford uses it as an illustration of the final step to Heaven, our final place of rest (Hebrews 4:8-9).  No longer will we pray as we do here – we will see Him face to face (1Corinthians 13:12)!

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!

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!

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!

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!"

See what my Dad has written about Sweet Hour of Prayer here.




ADDENDUM:  As I was thinking more about the last verse of this hymn, I concluded that I missed some of the meaning.  What I said wasn’t wrong, but there’s more to it.

It’s true, of course, that Moses was not allowed to enter the Promised Land.  He could see it, but he was not allowed to enter it (Deut 34:4).

But let’s not forget what happened to Moses.  He spoke with God – on earth – one last time.  Then from Mount Pisgah’s lofty height, he viewed his true home – and took his flight.

Moses’ body dropped (God buried him in the valley, though no one knew where) (Deut 34:6).  The robe of flesh he dropped, and he rose.

He gained his everlasting prize – to be in God’s presence forever.  Even Moses, who had such a special relationship with God, could still only know Him in part (Exodus 33:18-23).

No matter what our "end" is in this age – we too will rise and say goodbye to the times of prayer we’ve known here – and we’ll know Him – truly – clearly – as we could never know Him here.

So although there is a contrast here (Moses could not go "home" to Canaan) and a looking to something better (that perfect rest as opposed to rest in the land of Canaan), there’s also something very familiar – going to be with the One we love – forever.

As Paul wrote:

For now we see in a mirror dimly,
but then face to face.
Now I know in part;
then I shall know fully,
even as I have been fully known.
(1Corinthians 13:12)


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Grandma C. July 29, 2012 at 11:13 pm

Encouraging hymn and thoughts on it Jim. Thanks for posting it.

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