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A Prayer from Isolation

A Word for Today | Psalm 61:1

William O. Cushing penned his most famous hymn during a period of isolation because of ill health. More than the isolation, he struggled with his inability to serve the Lord as he previously had done. But he soon was contacted by Ira D. Sankey, the song leader who accompanied Dwight L. Moody on his evangelistic campaigns. “Send me something new to help me in my Gospel work,” Sankey wrote, and Cushing sent him the text of the hymn, “Hiding in Thee.” Cushing later said this hymn “was the outgrowth of many tears, many heart-conflicts and soul-yearnings.” Its popularity suggests that others have struggled through similar longings and have turned to the Lord through Cushing’s words:

O safe to the Rock that is higher than I
My soul in its conflicts and sorrows would fly
So sinful, so weary, Thine, Thine would I be
Thou blest Rock of Ages, I’m hiding in Thee.”

If Cushing wrote “Hiding in Thee” from the isolation of ill health, David wrote Psalm 61 “from the end of the earth.” David was suffering a forlorn sadness, perhaps due to a long separation from Jerusalem, coupled with anxious distress. “My heart is faint,” he confides, as he calls out to the Lord.

David shows us that when we feel alone, we should draw near to God in prayer, as he did: “Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to you” (Ps. 61:1). However far we may be from the comfort of family and friends, God is always as near as the prayer of our heart. This is why fellowship with God – through His Word and prayer – is the best antidote to isolation. Paul wrote: “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (Rom. 10:8), so that the Christian who opens his or her Bible will find God present in His Word. Likewise, the believer who turns to God for fellowship in prayer will experience the blessing spoken of by David in Psalm 34:18: “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Whether we are isolated from fellow Christians or distressed by trials, Psalm 61:1 reminds us to cry out to God, who is graciously willing to listen and give strength to fainting hearts.

In Christ’s Love,

Pastor Phillips

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