James Montgomery

(4 November 1771 – 30 April 1854 / Irvine in Ayrshire)

What Is Prayer? - Poem by James Montgomery

Prayer is the soul's sincere desire,
Unuttered or expressed;
The motion of a hidden fire,
That trembles in the breast.

Prayer is the burden of a sigh,
The falling of a tear;
The upward glancing of an eye,
When none but God is near.

Prayer is the simplest form of speech
That infant lips can try;
Prayer, the sublimest strains that reach
The Majesty on high.

Prayer is the Christian's vital breath,
The Christian's native air;
His watchword at the gates of death -
He enters heaven with prayer.

Prayer is the contrite sinner's voice,
Returning from his ways;
While angels in their songs rejoice
And cry, 'Behold, he prays!'

The saints in prayer appear as one,
In word, in deed, and mind;
While with the Father and the Son,
Sweet fellowship they find.

No prayer is made by man alone
The Holy Spirit pleads;
And Jesus, on th' eternal throne
For sinners intercedes.

O Thou! by Whom we come to God,
The Life, the Truth, the Way;
The path of prayer Thyself hast trod:
Lord, teach us how to pray.

As fail the waters from the deep,
As summer brooks run dry,
Man lieth down in dreamless sleep,
His life is vanity.

Man lieth down, no more to wake,
Till yonder arching sphere
Shall with a roll of thunder break,
And nature disappear.

Oh! hide me till Thy wrath be past,
Thou, who canst slay or save!
Hide me where hope may anchor fast,
In my Redeemer's grave!


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Poem Submitted: Thursday, April 15, 2010



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