I Asked the Lord That I Might Grow
In Bret's ongoing exposition through the gospel of Matthew, we have, for several weeks, been steeped in Christ's sermon on the mount. In teaching of those priorities that mark a Kingdom-Kind of people, we have examined those values of ultimate satisfaction (Beatitudes), the influence of kingdom people, the lasting value of God's law and getting to the heart of its intention, and in the most recent weeks watching our righteousness.
The focus of the later has been summarized by the statement, "The affirmation I seek in doing righteous deeds, determines the legitimacy of my righteousness." So, whose affirmation am I seeking in my giving, prayer, all those acts of a "righteous" follower of Christ.
In John Newton's hymn, I Asked the Lord that I Might Grow, the focus on prayer and pursuing Christ are particularly timely for us in this section of the sermon on the mount. The hymn balances well a pursuit of Christ and righteousness, and the gospel's humbling effects upon the heart of the truly righteous.
I encourage you to read through this timeless hymn, for in reading it as a whole you see Newton's intent. A petition to God for righteousness does not result in a pursuit of man's desires or expectations, but a humbling pursuit of God Himself and His will for the believer. Our best is not in earthly joys or peace, but in God alone.
I Asked the Lord that I Might Grow
I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith and love and ev’ry grace,
Might more of His salvation know,
And seek more earnestly His face.
‘Twas He who taught me thus to pray,
And He, I trust, has answered prayer,
But it has been in such a way
As almost drove me to despair.
I hoped that in some favored hour
At once He’d answer my request
And, by His love’s constraining pow’r,
Subdue my sins and give me rest.
Instead of this, He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart
And let the angry pow’rs of hell
Assault my soul in ev’ry part.
Yea, more with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe,
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Humbled my heart and laid me low.
“Lord, why is this,” I trembling cried;
“Wilt Thou pursue Thy worm to death?”
“’Tis in this way,” the Lord replied,
“I answer prayer for grace and faith.”
“These inward trials I employ
From self and pride to set thee free
And break thy schemes of earthly joy
That thou may’st find thy all in Me.”