Many times, down through history psalms, poems, and scriptures have been put to music as an expression of worship and praise. I know from my own personal experiences that I have found myself reciting the words to hymns in place of prayers as I could not pray or found that the words would not come. Great is Thy Faithfulness is a good example of such a prayer.
After walking through a dark season in my life, it seemed no matter how hard I tried to pray I could not find the words. Many times, as I would enter into prayer with the Lord all I could see was the pain and darkness that surrounded me. My heart longed for the good times and the times where the Lord had been faithful as before. As hard as it may be to believe, I just could not pray. I could, however, sing and this was my go to song in place of it. It gave me hope, it built my faith and the words gave me strength for the day. Great is Thy faithfulness. Oh God My Father. There is no shadow of turning with Thee. Thou Changest not thy compassions they fail not, As thou has been thou forever will be.
Those words brought life to my sad heart and gave me a renewed hope because each morning his mercies are new and every time he has provided just what I needed and then some. Over the course of the day the chorus would be my anthem. Great is Thy faithfulness, Great is Thy faithfulness, Morning by Morning, new mercies I see. All I have need Thy hand has provided. Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.
As I researched this song, I was amazed to learn about the simple life of the writer, Thomas Chisholm. In my mind, I thought the song would have come about by some tragic event he had experienced. I envisioned of the writer experiencing something like Job, who went through such sorrow and loss, yet to be restored and fulfilled by God. As I dug into the history of Mr. Chisholm I saw him as a an ordinary man, one with a simple life but having a strong desire to praise and honor God with his life. Mr. Chisholm used his poems and writings to do just that. Born in Kentucky in 1866, he lacked any sort of formal education but somehow became a school teacher at age 16. Five years later he became the assistant editor of his hometown newspaper. Then in 1893 he attended a revival and gave his heart and life to the Lord Jesus Christ. He became an ordained minister and held a pastorate at a church for nearly a year before an illness forced him to step down.
It was during these years that Mr. Chisholm wrote several poems reflecting God’s goodness. It was only after he had forwarded them to his friend, William Runyan, a musician with the Moody Bible Institute that many would put to music and become hymns.
Towards the end of his life, Mr. Chisholm reflected over the his past and stated that because of the many times he was not able to work and was bedridden, he had found the words to his song to be so true. He stated. “My income had not been large at any time due to my impaired health in the early years which followed me on until now. Although I must not fail to record here the unfailing faithfulness of a covenant-keeping God and that He has given me many wonderful displays of His providing care, for which I am filled with astonishing gratefulness.” Mr. Chisholm lived to be 93 years old before passing away in 1960.
I would offer this to be the take away from this story. So often the worldly stress, cares, and struggles overtake us. Many times, we as Christians, don’t realize the effects of carrying these on our own and find ourselves bogged down from the weight it. So much so that we find we can’t even utter a prayer. I would encourage you that when words and prayers don’t come to find a hymn and sing it. Sing your way out of that state you are in and into a place of peace, praise and worship.
Psalm 95:1-6 (KJV) 95 O come, let us sing unto the Lord: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation .2 Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. 3 For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. 4 In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also. 5 The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land. 6 O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker.