(photograph of Brent Lewis)
“GOD ANSWERS PRAYERS TODAY”
“If we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us…” (1 Jn. 5.14)
INTRO.: A song which affirms that God does indeed hear our prayers is “God Answers Prayers Today” (#71 in Hymns for Worship Revised). The text was written and the tune was composed both by J. Brent Lewis, who was born on Nov. 13, 1940, to Roland and Olive Lewis. The Lewis family was long associated with Florida College in Temple Terrace, FL, since the elder Lewis served the school from its beginning until his retirement and death, first as a professor and registrar and then as dean. Brent’s own formal education includes an A. A. from Florida College, and a B. Mus. Ed. from Abilene Christian University. He is married to the former Joy Harwell, and between them they have four sons and three daughters.
Lewis has preached with churches in Culver City, CA, from 1964 to 1966; Eau Gallie, FL, from 1966 to 1970; and Long Beach, CA, from 1970 to 1975. This hymn first appeared in its original form in a 1972 issue With All Boldness, the monthly bulletin of the Studebaker Rd. church in Long Beach. In 1975, Lewis began working with the church in Garden Grove, CA, and that year the hymn was republished in a subscription magazine also called With All Boldness which Lewis edited. Following this, Brent worked with churches in Lubbock, TX, from 1981 to 1984, and Eau Gallie, FL, again from 1984 to 1988. A new version of the hymn, with alterations to the words and rearrangement of the music, was made by Lewis and R. J. Stevens (1927-2012) in 1986. This was published in Hymns for Worship.
Following that, Lewis lived in Tampa, FL, from 1988 to 1991, and then labored with the Lake Gibson congregation, formerly Lake Wire, in Lakeland, FL. In addition to his preaching, he worked as bookstore manager at Florida college for several years, and served as co-editor of Christianity Magazine from its inception in 1984 for its entire existence, writing two regular columns in the magazine each month. For more than twenty years, his hobby has been the designing and typesetting of published materials, and he has been engaged in preparing several different types of religious materials for publication. Currently he operates the Harwell-Lewis Publishing Co. in Lakeland. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the song is found only in Hymns for Worship.
It explains several reasons why it is so important to know that God will hear our prayers.
I. Stanza 1 talks about our weaknesses and burdens that come to humble us
“We pray for strength that our desires may be fulfilled,
But weakness comes and humbles us to do God’s will.
We pray for health that we can do some greater thing,
Yet burdens come; To Him we always cling.”
- Certainly prayer is a time when we can make our requests known to God: Phil. 4.6
- Thus, it is not wrong to ask of God for strength and for health and other things that we need: Jn. 14.13-14
- However, Paul found that when he prayed to the Lord, his burdens were not always removed but he was given the strength to bear them: 2 Cor. 12.7-12
II. Stanza 2 talks about being thankful for the blessings that God has given us
“We thank our Father for the blessings we’ve received,
What a joy to know He hears when we believe.
We do not seek from Him earth’s wealth or worldly fame,
We seek Him first, in Jesus’ blessed name.”
- Not only is prayer a time to make our requests known to God, but it is a time to be thankful as well: 1 Thess. 5.18
- And in such times, it is a joy to know that the Lord’s ears are open to the prayers of the righteous: 1 Pet. 3.12
- So, the purpose of prayer is not to seek worldly fame or earthly wealth, but to seek God’s kingdom and righteousness first with the promise that He will take care of our needs: Matt. 6.33
III. Stanza 3 talks about the cares of growing old
“As days grow short and life begins to fade away,
We see God’s wisdom as He answers when we pray.
Our heavenly Father knows our every care and need,
He knows what’s best; His will we must give heed.”
- God has promised to be with His people even when days grow short and life begins to fade away: Isa. 46.3-4
- Then, when the evil days come nigh, we can look back and truly see that God knows what is best if we have remembered Him and His will from the days of our youth: Eccl. 12.1-14
- The one who has lived a life of trust recognizes that our heavenly Father knows our every care and need even before we ask Him: Matt. 6.8
CONCL.: The chorus emphasizes that in all these situations the Christian can pray and God will answer.
“God answers prayers today,
But in the wisest way,
He knows what’s best for us,
From day to day.”
His answer may be “yes,” it may be “no” (which is always hard), it may be “maybe” (that is sometimes harder), and it may be “just wait a while” (which may be the hardest). But whether in times of trial or joy, and in both youth and old age, the faithful Christian will always take comfort from the fact that “God Answers Prayers Today.” (The version below is the original.)