"I WILL PRAY"
"Evening, and morning and at noon, will I pray…" (Psa. 55.17)
INTRO.: A song which emphasizes the need to pray morning, noon, and night, is "I Will Pray" (#59 in Hymns for Worship Revised and #42 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written by A. Cummings. No further information is available about this author. The tune was composed by John Harrison Tenney, who was born on Nov. 22, 1840, in Rowley, MA, just after the presidential campaign of "Tippecanoe and Tyler, too." Therefore, he was named after Vice President JOHN Tyler and President William Henry HARRISON. I do not have much other information about him either, except that he was a deacon in the Congregational Church at Linebrook, MA, helped to edit over thirty songbooks, and provided tunes for some other songs that we sometimes sing, such as Eden Reeder Latta’s "Come To Jesus" and Elisha Albright Hoffman’s "Where Will You Spend Eternity?", among others. He died in 1918.
"I Will Pray," often identified by its first line, "Father in the Morning," was first published in 1875, but I have not been able to locate its original source. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, it appeared in the 1921 Great Songs of the Church (No. 1) and the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 both edited by E. L. Jorgenson; the 1935 Christian Hymns (No. 1), the 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2, and the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 all edited by L. O. Sanderson; the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater; and the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch. Today it is found in the 1971 Songs of the Church, the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed., and the 1994 Songs of Faith and Praise, all edited by Alton H. Howard; the 1978/1983 Church Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord, edited by John P. Wiegand; in addition to Hymns for Worship, Sacred Selections, and the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat.
The song emphasizes the importance of prayer at all times.
I. Stanza 1 tells us that we should pray in the morning
"Father, in the morning Unto Thee I pray;
Let Thy lovingkindness keep me through this day."
A. The dawn of a new day is an excellent time to go to God in prayer: Psalm 5.1-3
B. It is good to ask God for lovingkindness during the day as we awaken refreshed from the night’s sleep: Psalm 25.1-6
C. Jesus often arose early in the morning to go to the Father in prayer to ask His blessings through the day: Mk. 1.35
II. Stanza 2 tells us that we should pray at the noontide
"At the busy noontide, Pressed with work and care,
Then I’ll wait with Jesus, Till He hear my prayer."
A. Usually, at midday we take a break from our day’s work to eat a bite of lunch–note: Neh. 8.1-3; and that too is an excellent time to take a few minutes for prayer
B. While God gave us the day to do our work, we should never become so busy and occupied that we cannot speak to Him in prayer during the day: Neh. 1.1-11
C. Jesus often set aside time during a busy day to go to the Father in prayer: Lk. 9.28
III. Stanza 3 tells us that we should pray in the evening
"When the evening shadows Chase away the light,
Father, then I’ll pray Thee, Bless Thy child tonight."
A. As the day begins to draw to its close, we can find another excellent time to pray: Psalm 141.1-2
B. It is good to go to God in prayer as we prepare for sleep to ask God to bless us during the night: Psalm 17.1-3
C. Jesus often spent long hours of the night in prayer to the Father: Matt. 14.23
IV. Stanza four tells us that we should make an application of the need to pray morning, noon, and night during the day to the various ages of our lives
"Thus in life’s glad morning, In its bright noonday,
In the shadowy evening, Ever will I pray."
A. We should learn to pray in life’s glad morning so that we can remember our Creator in the days of our youth: Eccl. 12.1
B. We should continue to pray in life’s bright noonday so that we might not let the cares and troubles of our middle years bring anxiety but find peace: Phil. 4.6-7
C. And we should keep on praying even in life’s shadowy evening because God wants us to remain faithful until death: Rev. 2.10 (note NKJV translation "until;" the Greek word is archi, which does indeed mean until)
CONCL.: The chorus reemphasizes the main message of the song, "Ever will I pray," to remind us that we are to pray without ceasing: 1 Thess. 5.17.
"I will pray, I will pray, Ever will I pray;
Morning, noon, and evening Unto Thee I’ll pray."
Of course, we have other needs and obligations so that we cannot spend 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in nothing but prayer. At the same time, we should always maintain a prayerful attitude so that we can go to God in prayer any time that we need to do so. But the real meaning of the phrase is that we will never cease the regular practice of prayer in our lives. If I am a Christian, then I must determine that throughout my life, every day, and many times during the day, "I Will Pray."