One gospel song off Precious Memories Volume II album by Allan Jackson was “Sweet Hour of Prayer”. The lyrics came from William Walford, a blind lay preacher who served in the hamlet of Coleshill, Warwickshire, England, in the mid-19th century. He owned a small charm shop in the village. Called on to preach from time to time in a rural English church, William Walford composed sermons in his head to deliver on Sundays. He memorized a huge amount of the Bible which he quoted verbatim in his sermons. Some of his folk thought he had memorized the entire Scripture, cover to cover. William also composed lines of verse and prayed.

The story on how it was penned goes when Thomas Salmon, Walford’s friend, stopped by his shop one day. Walford repeated three pieces of line he had composed. Salmon rapidly copied the lines as Walford uttered them. Later on, he sent them for insertion in the Observer which they considered worth preserving and was, later on, published becoming a beloved hymn.

One-minute Reflection to an Hour of Prayer

In seasons of distress and grief,
My soul has often found relief
And oft escaped the tempter’s snare
By thy return, sweet hour of prayer!

The first stanza focuses on a plea that answers to “seasons of distress and fear.”

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
The joys I feel, the bliss I share,
Of those whose anxious spirits burn
With strong desires for thy return!

The second stanza focuses on prayers of thanksgiving where the singer shares the joys he feels.

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
Thy wings shall my petition bear
To Him whose truth and faithfulness
Engage the waiting soul to bless.

The third stanza returns to pleas, but the focus is redirected to God whose will truly bless our soul through our strong faith.

We want to point out that this view of devotional prayer, while positively valid, should not be confused with public prayers of thanksgiving, adoration, petition, intercession, and blessing. This hymn stresses prayers for the world, the people.  All possible prayers we have every day is squeezed into one hymn that exaggerating it was entitled sweet hour of prayer.  The romanticized language adds a tone that stresses withdrawal from the mundane world and focusing on God alone. It is a powerful religious script we use as we talk to Him in prayer. Every day, let’s pause for an hour and listen to “Sweet Hour of Prayer” by Allan Jackson on repeat as we walk with God in faith.

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