Words: James Montgomery, 1818.
Montgomery wrote these words at the request of Edward Bickersteth, who wanted them for his book Treatise on Prayer. Montgomery called thisthe most attractive hymn I ever wrote.
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 Heav’n with prayer.
Prayer is the contrite sinner’s voice,
Returning from his ways,
While angels in their songs rejoice
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.
Nor prayer is made on earth 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.