Take it to the Lord in prayer

A friend of mine said recently that, at its best, worry can be a form of prayer. This has been a helpful image to me. Instead of worrying about an idea or a problem in a downward spiral, digging myself deeper and deeper into a hole, it gives me a sense of worry as a way of holding my concern up to the Light, looking at it from different angles, getting a better sense of perspective, asking for help.

As I have tried to practice this over the last several weeks, I have been reminded of the old hymn:

What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear;
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer.
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

This is odd to me because I have rejected almost everything I was ever taught about Jesus - recognizing that most of the stories that have been told about Jesus have been made up or at least manipulated at some time in history, for various social, political and economic reasons. But Jesus hasn't gone away. In fact, Jesus is still waiting for me - in times of prayer - and welcoming me into greater faith. I think I'm currently at the stage of "Lord, I believe. Help thou mine unbelief." (Mark 9:24)

A few weeks ago, I went to a peace vigil on one of the most notorious corners of San Francisco. From 7-9 pm, 3-5 of us hung out on the corner, sang songs, played drums, and greeted every single passerby. This vigil has come a long way from the days when gunshots were a regular feature, three years ago. Lots of people felt safe enough to walk by, but mostly it was the two main organizers, another local woman for the first hour, and me, there for the first time.

But at 9:00 on a Friday night, there were 20 people gathered on the sidewalk, waiting for the closing prayer. We held hands in a circle and Kevin led us in a very traditional prayer, almost stereotypical for the African-American church - very repetitive, participatory, emotional. It was not at all about the historical or scholarly understanding of the Gospels. It was Jesus save us, heal us, bring us peace, for us and all who suffer. It was people who have suffered far more than me turning to Jesus for help. It was unashamed of the Savior's precious name (to paraphrase another bluegrass gospel song I love). Unlike me. Yet.

Here's the rest of the song. (I love the Doc Watson version (nearly a capella, with a little harmonica on the side), but I couldn't find a link.) [Update 12/10: You can listen to it here.]

Have we trials and temptations, is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness, take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Saviour still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee? Take it to the Lord in prayer,
In His arms He'll take and shield thee, thou wilt find a solace there.

Words: Joseph Scriven, music: Charles C. Converse. (Thanks to Rise Up Singing for the correct and complete lyrics)


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Blogger Chris M. said...

Try these links for the Doc Watson version:

- Info on google

- Sound bite of the song (Real player) from CD Universe

Chris M.

2/28/2006 2:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I stumbled on to your blog looking for the lyrics for "What a Friend" and appreciated your story about the street corner. God Bless.

A stranger, Sarah

8/05/2007 1:44 AM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

Try this link on MySpace.

12/20/2010 2:04 PM  

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