Friday, 15 March 2013

Abide With Me

The Prayer of the Broken Heart

Great hymns often make great prayers.  The richness of the lyrics and, especially with the old ones, the realism and dependence on God they exhibit cry out to be turned to prayer.  Surely none more so than ‘Abide With Me’ by Henry Francis Lyte.  Written as he lay near death at a young age it cries out to God to never, ever leave, even in the face of death and the loss of all life’s pleasures.  It is a beautiful prayer of someone who has lost all his illusions about the treasures of this world and broken-hearted, cries out for the constant presence of the God who never leaves.

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

Father, abide with me.  Stay with me Lord as the evening grows ever closer.  Darkness deepens Lord, it threatens to overwhelm me.  Do not leave me now Father, not now when those I care more about have left me.  Do not leave me now when all the comforts and treasures of my life here on earth have vanished like the ebbing day.  Oh Father stay with me.  I am so helpless, so broken and weak Lord and yet You are the one who helps the helpless.  You are the one who gives grace to the humble.  I have been so greatly humbled Lord.  Give me grace I pray.  Abide with me.

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim; its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.

Oh Lord this life is so short and I have wasted so much time.  So much time chasing the things of this world when I could have sought You.  Forgive me Lord, forgive me.  I see now, at the close Lord, I see now how dim and faded earth’s treasures are.  How pointless, how cold, how weak.  Lord all these things I have sought:  money, popularity, relationships.  All for nothing now, they fade and grow dim.  Lord all in this world is change and decay.  All but You.  Relationships end.  Money is spent or lost.  Financial institutions collapse, health and strength fail.  Hearts are broken and trust and friendship betrayed.  Nothing remains constant.  Nothing but You.  Lord, all changes, all decays.  All but You.  Lord you never change, you never decay.  Abide with me.

Not a brief glance I beg, a passing word;
But as Thou dwell’st with Thy disciples, Lord,
Familiar, condescending, patient, free.
Come not to sojourn, but abide with me.

Oh do not less this be a fading, passing lesson Lord.  Do not let this realisation of Your importance and the reality of Your presence leave me when the sun again shines briefly to warm my heart.  Let this be a lasting memory, searing my heart with the knowledge that You are worth it.  Do not leave me Lord, when times are good.  Live with me, in me by Your Spirit.  Lord be like the closest of family; come down to my level and endure, patiently, all my many flaws.  Lord do not but briefly stay.  Abide with me.

Come not in terrors, as the King of kings,
But kind and good, with healing in Thy wings,
Tears for all woes, a heart for every plea—
Come, Friend of sinners, and thus bide with me.

Lord I see you as so often I forget to see You.  The Lord of all. El-Elyon na Adonai, God Most High my Lord.  The King of kings and the Lord of lords.  Seated above the cherubim, the judge of all the earth.  With Your Son seated at Your right hand, ready to return to judge the living and the dead.  Oh come not thus to me Father!  Come not as judge, with terror and wrath.  Come instead with healing for my broken heart.  Come and weep, as Your Son did for the death of Lazarus two thousand years ago.  Weep for my woes, be moved with pity for me and answer my cries.  Come, Father.  Send your Son to comfort me, my saviour, brother, friend. Come in love. Abide with me.

Thou on my head in early youth didst smile;
And, though rebellious and perverse meanwhile,
Thou hast not left me, oft as I left Thee,
On to the close, O Lord, abide with me.

Oh Father I came to You so young.  By Your great grace I was not long in this world before You called me to be Your servant.  What a useless servant I have been.  You called me Lord and I came to You but so often I have strayed since then.  I have fallen so many times.  I have rebelled.  I have run away from You, from Your goodness, from Your will.  I have sought happiness and pleasure in the things of this world and not in You.  What a fool I have been!  Oh Father I thank You for Your great grace that despite how often I have left You, despite how often I have betrayed you, still You welcome me back with open arms.  Still You walk beside, even when I am running away from You.  Thank You Father.  Do not cease to show Your mercies to me now.  Stay until the end Lord.  Abide with me.

I need Thy presence every passing hour.
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

I ask not because I feel it would make my life a little easier, or even a little happier.  I ask because I need it Lord.  I cannot live without it.  Every right step I take is solely by Your grace Father.  Were it not for Your presence I would have fallen into every temptation I passed.  I have no strength of my own Lord.  Only weakness and dependence.  You alone can guide me, You alone can hold me fast.  Oh Lord my God, whatever befalls me, whatever trials come, do not leave me.  Even when sunlight sings its song in my soul Lord; even in those rare moments of joy, do not leave me even then.  Even then I would forget You Lord.  Abide with me.

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.

On my own I cannot face so much as a breath of temptation.  With You at my side I fear none of the wiles or the might of the devil.  Oh Lord how foolish it is for me to continue to fret and worry when You are at my side, ready to bless and to protect me.  Lord I fail to remember this so often.  I have nothing to fear while You are here.  Lord God, many are the ills upon my back in this life.  Many, many are my tears.  Father I struggle so much with bitterness.  Send Your cleansing presence.  If I could only see what I have gained, to have You at my side, truly then ills would have no weight and tears would lose all their bitterness.  Death has no sting, no more.  You have taken that sting, all death brings me is to see You face to face.  What glorious victory!  To lie on earth, this feeble body mouldering in the grave and stand in heaven, my soul cleansed by your grace.  Face to face with my Saviour.  My God.  The grave has no victory over me, even in death, your presence brings me triumph.  Abide with me!

Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

Do not ever let me lose the wonder of the cross.  So easily it slips beneath my gaze.  Lord such a thing should never be forgotten.  How easily I forget Father, Your mercy has cleansed me.  I have nothing left to live for but this grace.  How easily too I forget, you call me to carry a cross of my own.  To live that cross-shaped life that Your son lived.  To suffer in this brief life I have in order to further the cause He died for.  How easily I forget and fall into guilt or complacency.  Hold now that cross in front of me, do not let me forget, even until I die Lord!  Oh Father, break through the gloom that surrounds me.  Shine Your glory into my life and lift my eyes heavenwards.  Do not let me become distracted with this life but always glory in the joys of the next.  Oh Father I see it!  I see heaven’s gates standing open.  I see the Son of Man standing at Your right hand, waiting to welcome me in.  The shadows of earthly things fly away as I see that sight.  What matter they to me when that is my future? To be welcomed in and to sit with my God at that great heavenly banquet.  To have my tears wiped away and to see You face to face.  Oh Lord everything, everything in me cries out for that moment.  Come Lord Jesus Come.  But until you send Him back Father, whether I live or I die I ask for your presence with me.  In everything this, this is my prayer.

Abide with me.

<<For more backstory and free download: .  This isn’t something I’ve done before, but it did strike me that this hymn (which has been a great comfort to me) is meant to be prayed.  So I did.>>

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