"THE BEAUTIFUL GARDEN OF PRAYER"
"The Lord hath heard my supplication: the Lord will receive my prayer" (Psa. 6.9)
INTRO.: A song which encourages us to pray to the Lord so that He will hear our supplication and receive our prayer by likening prayer to being in a beautiful garden is "The Garden Of Prayer" (#79 in Hymns for Worship Revised and #25 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written by Eleanor Allen Schroll who was born in 1878 at Newport, KY. Despite much searching, I have not been able to find out very much specific information about her. The tune was composed by James Henry Fillmore (1849-1936). Fillmore was a well-known music publisher among churches of Christ and Christian Churches in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. The song was originally copyrighted and first published in 1920 by the Fillmore Brothers Company of Cincinnati, OH, but when the copyright was renewed in 1948, it was owned by the Lillenas Publishing Company which is associated with the Nazarene Publishing House. Schroll and Fillmore collaborated on another hymn, "He Lives," beginning
"Rejoice, for the Savior has risen, And gone is the darkness of night;
The stone has been rolled from the prison; He lives in His glory and might."
Mrs. Schroll died on Jan. 8, 1966, in Daytona Beach, FL, and her body is buried at Southgate, KY.
Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the song appeared in the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 edited by E. L. Jorgenson; the 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2 and the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 both edited by L. O. Sanderson; the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch; and the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater. Today, it may be 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; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; in addition to Hymns for Worship and Sacred Selections. Having been found in all these books published by brethren, it has been quite popular through the years.
The song mentions several benefits of prayer.
I. In stanza one, prayer is communion with God
"There’s a garden where Jesus is waiting, There’s a place that is wondrously fair;
For it glows with the light of His presence, ‘Tis the beautiful garden of prayer."
A. Prayer is an opportunity for us to call upon God as "Our Father, who is in heaven": Matt. 6.9
B. This communion with God in prayer is identified poetically as a place that is wondrously fair, like a garden, such as the garden of Eden where Adam and Eve had communion with God: Gen. 2.15-17
C. And the reason that prayer is like such a garden is because it glows with the light of His presence; in prayer, we spiritually come into the very presence of God Himself: Heb. 4.14-16
II. In stanza two, prayer is communication with God
"There’s a garden where Jesus is waiting, And I go with my burden and care,
Just to learn from His lips words of comfort, In the beautiful garden of prayer."
A. In prayer, we bow our knees to the Father and talk to Him, as Paul often did: Eph. 3.14-16
B. When we thus talk with Him, we can go with our burden and care: 1 Pet. 5:7
C. While God does not speak directly to us in prayer, as some seem to think, it is possible that, because our minds are focusing on Him when we are taking our burdens and cares to Him, some portion of His word that we have previously studied and learned may now come to the forefront of our mind to help us with those specific problems, and we know that God always speaks to us through His word: 2 Tim. 3.16-17
III. In stanza three, prayer is closeness with God
"There’s a garden where Jesus is waiting–O can aught with His glory compare?
Just to walk and to talk with my Savior, In the beautiful garden of prayer."
A. Prayer is most certainly one of those things that will help us draw near to God that He might draw near to us: Jas. 4.8
B. While we do not physically see God’s glory in prayer, as Moses did on the mount, yet prayer helps us to develop a sense of His glory, the same glory that Moses did see–cf.: Exo. 33.18-23, 34.29-35
C. And this glory comes from walking and talking with the Savior; again, this is not literal, but we walk and talk with Jesus when we follow in His steps and obey His will: 1 Pet. 2.21-22, 1 Jn. 1.7
IV. In stanza four, prayer is comfort from God
"There’s a garden where Jesus is waiting, And He bids you to come meet Him there,
Just to bow, and receive a new blessing, In the beautiful garden of prayer."
A. In prayer, we can gain the peace that passes all understanding: Phil. 4.6-7
B. That is why Jesus bids us to come and meet with Him there: Matt. 7.7-8; we meet with Him in the sense that He is our Mediator, High Priest, and Advocate: 1 Tim. 2.5, Heb. 8.1, 1 Jn. 2.1
C. Therefore, when we truly bow before Him in humble submission to His will, we can receive His blessings, because all spiritual blessings in heavenly places are found in Christ: Eph. 1.3
CONCL.: The chorus says that Jesus opened the gates to the beautiful garden of prayer.
"O the beautiful garden, the garden of prayer, O the beautiful garden of prayer;
There my Savior awaits, and He opens the gates To the beautiful garden of prayer."
This He did by His death on the cross which makes possible our access to God (Rom. 5.1-2, Eph. 2.14-18). It should be obvious to almost anyone that figurative language is used throughout the song to help us appreciate better the benefits that are available to us in prayer. Thus, we should seek to go as often as we possibly can to "The Beautiful Garden Of Prayer."