We sang this song for worship yesterday. It’s a poem written by John Newton in 1779 about how the Lord afflicts us that he might free us from our sin and drive us to himself. It describes what David said in Psalm 119 when he sang,
“Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word . . . It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes. The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces” (vss. 65-72).
Like David and John Newton, we have asked the Lord to grow us. Then he brought suffering as an answer to our prayer. Then we asked the Lord to take away the suffering. But the suffering does not go away but what comes is the design of the suffering – to “break thy schemes of earthly joy that thou may’st find thy all in Me.”
The song is sung by Sovereign Grace Ministries to the tune, “O Waly Waly.” The lyrics are below.
I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith and love and ev’ry grace,
Might more of His salvation know,
And seek more earnestly His face.
‘Twas He who taught me thus to pray, And He, I trust, has answered prayer,
But it has been in such a way
As almost drove me to despair.
I hoped that in some favored hour
At once He’d answer my request And, by His love’s constraining pow’r,
Subdue my sins and give me rest.
Instead of this, He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart
And let the angry pow’rs of hell
Assault my soul in ev’ry part.
Yea, more with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe, Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Humbled my heart and laid me low.
“Lord, why is this,” I trembling cried;
“Wilt Thou pursue Thy worm to death?”
“’Tis in this way,” the Lord replied,
“I answer prayer for grace and faith.”
“These inward trials I employ
From self and pride to set thee free
And break thy schemes of earthly joy
That thou may’st find thy all in Me.”