"HEAVENLY FATHER, BLESS ME NOW"
"Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation" (2 Cor. 6:2)
INTRO.: A song which asks God to bless us based upon our commitment to accept His word now, while day of salvation is still open, is "Heavenly Father, Bless Me Now." The text was written by Alexander Clark, who was born on Mar. 10, 1834, near Steubenville, OH. Becoming an American Methodist Episcopal minister, he was a writer and an editor for The School Day Magazine from 1851 to 1859. Some of his books include The Old Log School House in 1861, Memory’s Tribute to the Life, Character and Work of Thomas Hewlings Stockton in 1868, The Gospel in Trees in 1868, Workday Christianity in 1871, Starting Out: A Story of the Ohio Hills in 1875, Ripples on the River and Foating Leaves of Song in 1876, and Summer Rambles in Europe in 1879. Also, he edited the Methodist Reporter from 1870 to 1879. "Heavenly Father, Bless Me Now" is dated 1872 and was probably first published in the 1875 Gospel Hymns (No. 1) edited by Ira D. Sankey and Philip P. Bliss.
Two of Clark’s hymns, this one and "Make Room for Jesus," are found in Sankey’s Sacred Songs and Solos. Several tunes have been suggested for "Heavenly Father, Bless Me Now," but the one (Bless Me Now) that was probably originally intended for it and is used in our books was composed by Robert Lowry (1826-1899). It is listed as copyrighted in 1873 by Biglow and Main of New York City, NY, in my copy of Gospel Hymns Nos. 1 to 6 Complete. Clark died on June 6, 1879 in the Governor’s mansion at Atlanta, GA. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the chorus only of the song appeared in the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 edited by E. L. Jorgenson; and the 1965 Great Christian Hymnal No. 2 edited by Tillit S. Teddlie.
The song makes several requests of God at the time one decides to come to Him for salvation.
I. Stanza 1 calls upon the Father to heal
"Heavenly Father, bless me now; At the cross of Christ I bow.
Take my guilt and grief away; Hear and heal me now, I pray."
A. The song is addressed, as should be our prayers, to the Heavenly Father: Matt. 6:9
B. To bow at the cross of Christ is often used as a symbol of repentance before God: 2 Cor. 7:10
C. What the penitent is seeking from God is to be healed from sin: Isa. 53:5
II. Stanza 2 calls upon the Father to send His power
"Now, O Lord, this very hour, Send Thy grace and show Thy power;
While I rest upon Thy word, Come and bless me now, O Lord."
A. The only time of which the penitent has assurance to seek God’s healing is now, today: Heb. 3:15
B. To be right with God, our faith must be in God’s power: 1 Cor. 2:5
C. This means that we must rest upon His word, because His power unto salvation is the gospel of Christ: Rom. 1:16
III. Stanza 3 calls upon the Father to calm
"Mercy now, O Lord, I plead In this hour of utter need.
Turn me not away unblest; Calm my anguish into rest."
A. We certainly need God’s mercy: Eph. 2:4
B. If we truly seek God’s mercy, Christ has promised that He will not turn away: Jn. 6:37
C. When we do come to Him, He will calm and give peace, just as Christ did to the storm: Mk. 4:39
IV. Stanza 4 calls upon the Father to cleanse
"Now, just now, for Jesus’ sake, Lift the clouds, the fetters break;
While I look, and as I cry, Touch and cleanse me ere I die."
A. If we meet His conditions, the Bible teaches that God "for Christ’s sake" (KJV) will forgive us: Eph. 4:32
B. Lifting the clouds represents restoring the joy of salvation to the penitent: Ps. 51:12
C. All of this relates to the fact that when the erring child of God confesses His sin, God will cleanse: 1 Jn. 1:9
V. Stanza 5 calls upon the Father to rise
"O Thou loving, blessed One, Rising o’er me like the sun,
Light and life art Thou within, Savior, Thou, from every sin."
A. The Bible teaches that God is love: 1 Jn. 4:8
B. Therefore, we can look to this loving God to rise over us like the sun: Mal. 4:2
C. He is our Savior, who wants us all people to be saved: 1 Tim. 2:3-4
VI. Stanza 6 calls upon the Father to show His grace
"Never did I so adore Jesus Christ, Thy Son, before;
Now the time! and this the place! Gracious Father, show Thy grace."
A. Because of the blessings that God has made available to us in Christ, we should honor the Son as we honor the Father: Jn. 23
B. Now should be the time and this the place that each one would decide to come to Jesus: Matt. 11:28-30
C. When we thus come to Him, He will show us His grace to save us: Eph. 2:8-9
CONCL.: The chorus continues to seek God’s blessings.
"Bless me now, bless me now;
Heavenly Father, bless me now."
This song could well serve as a good invitation hymn to encourage those who are lost in sin to humble themselves in obedience to God’s word and receive the blessing of salvation. However, when those of us who are Christians sin, we need to have the same attitude of humble submission as we come to the Lord for pardon. Recognizing that I am among that number of whom it is said that all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory, therefore my earnest request as I approach the throne of God is, "Heavenly Father, Bless Me Now."