“‘Tis the Blessed Hour of Prayer”

"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, and #24 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written by Frances (Fanny) Jane Crosby VanAlstyne, better known as Fanny J. Crosby (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 published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the song is 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 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; the 1978/1983 (Church) Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard; the 1986 Great Songs Revised edited by Forrest M. McCann; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; in addition to Hymns for Worship and Sacred Selections.
     The song mentions several aspects of prayer and its importance to us.

I. Stanza one says that prayer is an expression of faith
"’Tis the blessed hour of prayer, when our hearts lowly bend
And we gather to Jesus, our Savior and friend;
If we come to Him in faith, His protection to share,
What a balm for the weary! O how sweet to be there!"
 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
"’Tis the blessed hour of prayer, when the Savior draws near,
With a tender compassion His children to hear;
When He tells us we may cast at His feet every care,
What a balm for the weary! O how sweet to be there!"
 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. Stanza three 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
"’Tis the blessed hour of prayer, trusting Him, we believe
That the blessing we’re needing we’ll surely receive;
In the fullness of this trust we shall lose every care,
What a balm for the weary! O how sweet to be there!"
 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).
"Blessed hour of prayer, blessed hour of prayer,
What a balm for the weary! O how sweet to be there."
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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