“‘TIS THE BLESSED HOUR OF PRAYER”

Wayne S. Walker

“Peter and John went up together…at the hour of prayer…” (Acts 3.1)

     INTRO.:  A gospel song which encourages us to go to God in prayer is
“‘Tis The Blessed Hour Of Prayer” (#95 in “Hymns for Worship Revised”).
The text was written by Fanny Jane Crosby VanAlstyne (1820-1915).  The
tune (Blessed Hour) was composed by William Howard Doane (1832-1915).
The song first appeared in “Good As Gold,” a Sunday school collection
compiled in 1880 for Biglow and Main by Doane and Robert Lowry
(1826-1899).

     Among songbooks used by churches of Christ in the 20th century, the
song is found in the 1921 “Great Songs of the Church” No. 1 (#348).
Since then it has appeared in nearly every other book published by
members of the Lord’s church, including “Sacred Selections for the
Church” (#24), “Songs of the Church” (#590), “Songs of the Church 21st C.
Ed.” (#422), “Songs of Faith and Praise” (#849), “Church Gospel Songs and
Hymns” (#246), “Great Songs Revised” (#560), and “Praise for the Lord”
(#689).

     The song mentions several aspects of prayer and its importance to
us.

I. Stanza one says that prayer is an expression of faith
 A. Some object to the term “hour of prayer,” saying that under the New
Law we do not have specific hours of prayer, as apparently developed
among the Jews under the Old Covenant, but can pray at any time.
However, we can understand the concept of the “hour of prayer” as
referring to any time when we choose to pray: Matt. 6.6
 B. Jesus Christ is both our friend and our Mediator through whom we go
to the Father in prayer: Jn. 15.14-15, 1 Tim 2.5
 C. But to be confident that God will hear and answer our prayers, we
must come to Him in faith: Jas. 1.5-6

II. Stanza two says that prayer is a communion with the Savior
 A. Prayer is one of those blessings from God in which we can draw near
to God and He draw near to us: Jas. 4.8
 B. We can have assurance that God will hear us because of His compassion
upon us as His children, as demonstrated by the compassion of Christ on
earth: Matt. 9.36, 14.14
 C. And because of His compassion, He tells us to cast all our cares on
Him: 1 Pet. 5.7

III. A stanza not in “Hymns for Worship Revised” says that prayer is a
haven in time of temptation or trial
“‘Tis the blessed hour of prayer, when the tempted and tried
To the Savior who loves them their sorrow confide;
With a sympathizing heart He removes every care;
What a balm for the weary!  O how sweet to be there!”
 A. All of God’s people find themselves tempted and tried from time to
time: Jas. 1.2-3, 12
 B. But during all our temptations and trials we can know that we have a
Savior who loves us: Rom. 8.31-39
 C. And because He has a sympathizing heart, we can go to God through Him
in prayer and ask His help to remove every care: 1 Cor. 10.13, Heb.
4.14-16

IV. Stanza four says that prayer is a result of our complete trust in God
 A. Certainly, the Bible teaches that we should put our complete trust in
God: Psa. 37.3, Prov. 3.5
 B. Because of our trust in Him, we can be persuaded that the blessings
which we need we shall receive from Him: Matt. 7.7-12
 C. And in the fullness of this trust, we can lose every care by casting
our burdens on the Lord: Psa. 55.22

CONCL.:  The chorus reminds us that the hour of prayer is certainly
blessed and sweet because, like the balm of Gilead, it is a balm for the
weary (Jer. 8.22, 16.11).  Whenever we choose to go to God in prayer
through our Mediator Jesus Christ, we can say, “‘Tis The Blessed Hour Of
Prayer.”

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