How Sweet the Sound – What a Friend We Have in Jesus
In many ways, hymns are the oral history of our faith. Like the Psalms in Scripture, they are passed from generation to generation and sung in cathedrals, chapels, or around a family piano. In this series, we will delve into some of those classic hymns and explore their meaning, breathing new life into their melodies to illuminate the hope they have for us today. “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” is a Christian hymn originally written by preacher Joseph Scriven as a poem in 1855 to comfort his mother who was living in Ireland while he was in Canada:
Something To Talk About:
Prayer is an opportunity to spend time with God. To really understand the heart of God, you need to pray. In John 15:15, Jesus says He no longer calls us His servants, but calls us His friends. Talking with God develops a deeper relationship with Him.
- Sometimes you talk to God: Many people find prayer a challenge simply because they are not sure how to go about it: “How do I pray to God correctly?” or, “What do I say when I pray?” The Bible has many examples of how to pray and many of them show people conversing with the Lord in an open and honest way. They are simply talking with the Lord and letting Him know what was on their heart and what they hoped He would do for them. The important thing is that we’re giving our attention to God – and that we’re talking to Him. We need to nurture out relationship with God and like any other relationship requires communication. Psalm 34:15 perfectly sums up the importance of why we need to talk to God: “The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right; His ears are open to their cries for help.” God desires an authentic, intimate, and no-holds-barred relationship with us, where we feel secure and safe enough to talk to Him about everything that is on our minds and troubling our hearts.
- Sometimes you vent to God: Sometimes when you’re feeling stressed, life can seem overwhelming and it can be easy to lose perspective. One thing that can really help when you’re stressed is to vent your feelings to God. King David, who was “a man after God’s own heart”, wrote many psalms of heart-wrenching protest and lament about his circumstances and his enemies. In Psalm 142 1-2, David said that “I cry out to the Lord; I plead for the Lord’s mercy. I pour out my complaints before him and tell him all my troubles.” We can let God know how you feel without holding back, and He won’t be upset with us for it. Just knowing God is with you all the way can be a great stress reliever. Then, after you’ve vented, try turning your focus over to God’s promises as David did in Psalm 13: 5-6: “But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me. I will sing to the Lord because he is good to me.” Thinking of the blessings He’s promised and the strength and power He provides will give you hope, confidence and peace.
- Sometimes you listen to God: Listening to God is an important part of the Christian life. God desires to speak to us and we have the privilege of listening to His perfect instruction and guidance. Sometimes we think that prayer is making use of God; But in reality, prayer is a way of offering ourselves to God so He can make use of us. It may be that one of our great faults in prayer is that we talk too much and listen too little. We need to listen for God’s voice to us.
- At all times, give thanks to God: We are coming upon the Easter season when we should pause to reflect on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is a time to be thankful for His love, grace and mercy exemplified in the Easter weekend. But thankfulness is not a once a year novelty, rather we need to daily cultivate a heart of thanksgiving. Scripture tells us, “Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) “We are to give thanks in all things, not some things, not the great and wonderful things, but in everything, including the valleys we find ourselves in” … “but Joy comes with the morning. You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing …” Psalm 30:5 and Psalm 30:11 (NLT)
- Have you ever heard the song, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus?” If not, what is your opinion of the song?
- How often do you pray? What is it like? What types of things do you regularly pray for?
- Tim Keller said “I can think of nothing great that is also easy. Prayer must be, then, one of the hardest things in the world.” Do you find prayer to be difficult? If so, what are some of the obstacles in your personal prayer life?
- Is dependency the foundation of prayer? If so, what are the areas of your life where you need to be most dependent upon God? Are you showing your dependence through prayer?
- Read Ephesians 3:14-19. Imagine this prayer becoming reality in your life. How would things be different?
- Which of these do you want to do more of with God: talking, venting, listening, or thanking?
- We rarely think the source of our problems is tied to our lack of being thankful. How do you think being thankful and praising God is the solution that will help us experience God’s best in our situations?
- What are some good listening skills we can develop in our relationship with the Lord? With other people?
- Friends don’t talk the same way and same time every day. How will you refresh your prayer routine this week?
Take one thing home with you
It’s impossible to know someone if you don’t spend time with them. Prayer is an opportunity to spend time with God. To really understand the heart of God, you need to pray. In John 15:15, Jesus says “ I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.” Our Savior calls us friends. Friends talk. Talking with God develops a deeper relationship with Him. The deeper the relationship becomes, the more time you want to spend with Him.