For several years now I have enjoyed a relationship with another pastor outside our city. We meet not as often as I would like. But my life has been much enriched by his fellowship and partnership in the gospel.
In our last encounter he shared quite vulnerably with me about an area of his life and ministry for which he felt great concern. I sensed the weight of his burden. The Lord nudged me to propose a mutual forty-day exhort-one-another-daily accountability campaign of sin-killing in the spirit of Heb. 3:13. So for several weeks now we have engaged in daily contact whether by text, email, or phone – all bathed in prayer designed to pull down strongholds.
Today I received from my brother the text of a hymn over which he had wept and prayed earlier this morning. The hymn is by John Newton (written in a particularly difficult season in his life) entitled I Asked the Lord.
I asked the Lord that I might grow,
In faith and love and every grace,
Might more of His salvation know,
And seek more earnestly His face.
It was 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 power,
Subdue my sins and give me rest.
Instead of this, He made me feel,
The hidden evils of my heart.
And let the angry powers of hell,
Assault my soul in every part.
Yes, more with His own hand, He seemed,
Intent to aggravate my woe.
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.
“Lord, why is this?” I trembling cried.
Will You pursue Your worm to death?”
“This is the way” the Lord replied,
“I answer prayer for grace and strength.”
“These inward trials I employ,
From self, and pride, to set you free;
And break your schemes of earthly joy,
That you may find thy all in Me.”
This is an example what I call sweet fruit of gospel accountability. Do you have someone in your life waging war with you against sin in gospel grace? Pray that God gives you such a brother or sister and enjoy the spoils that will come your way. Challenge someone to do this with you soon, particularly if you are locked in a battle you are struggling to win.
For a soulful treatment of this hymn by Indelible Grace click here.