I Need Thee Every Hour - Hymns 4 Him - Part 6
We come to today’s Hymn 4 Him entitled, “I Need Thee Every Hour.” The one question we will ask ourselves many times today is this: When is the time OR What is the occasion that I have no need of our Lord God? Is there a time when I can handle things on my own? Is there an occasion when I can confidently say, “I got this!?”
Or would we agree - in principle at least - that never is the time and never is the occasion that I would rebuff the Lord’s aide or His comfort or His assistance? Would we agree - in principle at least - that to state out loud our confidence in our solo abilities would be the very definition of our pride and the very beginning of our fall?
I believe that we would never intentionally state this aloud or even quietly admit a lack of continuous need and dependence upon the Lord God. And yet, we live out most of our lives as if most of our hours, we have no need of the Lord God, and indeed it is only when we directly feel the need because of our own felt inadequacies, that we then fall to our knees in prayer and dependence upon the Lord God!
With these general thoughts about our need for our Lord in mind, let us sing this first and last verse of the hymn, “I Need Thee Every Hour.”
Sing Verse 1, Chorus, Verse 2, Chorus.
#1 - The Lord God supplies my ___MANY NEEDS___.
“My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19
It’s worthwhile for us to re-read this verse. God supplies EVERY need of ours - even those we don’t know we need. Even those needs we take for granted or assume we can handle. If you doubt that, try to stop breathing. The average breaths for an adult at rest is 12 to 16 breaths a minute. For just a moment - concentrate very hard on your own heart. Try to stop your heart beat and then try to start it up again. These are the most fundamental of needs. Our brains die after a mere 4 minutes without oxygen. Yet the Lord God provides not only the oxygen you need to breathe, but the most fundamental physical means of breathing in that precious oxygen and the most fundament physical means of delivering that oxygen to every part of your body!
And that’s just the basic need. Our Lord God not only provides the basic needs of our lives, but every need of our lives! In 1872 a young 37-year-old housewife and mother named Annie Hawks was going about her daily household tasks. Suddenly she was overcome with the feeling that she needed her Lord God for every task in every hour whether easy or hard, in joy and in pain. She sat down and jotted down the five verses to the song - almost all at once! She was overcome with the Presence of God’s Holy Spirit. She took her lyrics to her pastor of the Hanson Place Baptist Church in Brooklyn, NY. Pastor (Dr.) Robert Lowry wrote the refrain and the melody and just like that, a new hymn was born!
Sing Verse 2 and Chorus.
#2 - I need the Lord’s help for my ___TEMPTATIONS___.
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear… He will also provide a way out!” 1 Corinthians 10:13
It is fascinating that the second verse of Annie Hawks’ song immediately went to the issue of temptation. We might be tempted to think that a dedicated churchwoman, wife and mother would not feel much need of help with temptation. What wrongs could such a pious woman be tempted to commit, we wonder? This only demonstrates our ignorance of the issue of temptation. ALL OF US face temptations. The ones who struggle least with temptations are not those who are most righteous, but rather those who give in most easily to their temptations.
In EVERY temptation we have need of the Lord! We need His Presence. We need His help. We need His reminding of the better things He has in store for us. We need His direction for how we might escape temptation.
Even Jesus, we are told, faced temptation. His answer in every tempting trial was to turn to God’s Word as His rebuttal to the tempter.
“It is written…”
“It is written…”
“It is written…”
Jesus - literally God Himself come in the form of flesh - had need of the Presence of God in the form of His written Word to handle temptation. Why would we ever feel like we could handle temptation on our own? As Annie reminds us, “Temptations lose their power when Thou art nigh.”
For just a moment I’d like you to stop and consider this past week. What were the temptations that you faced? Don’t be tempted to think you faced 0 temptations - that would just mean you’re losing all your temptation battles. Really think about it. What were the things you were tempted to do that you know would have displeased your Heavenly Father? What were the things you were tempted to neglect to do that you know would have pleased God if only you would have done them? Now take a moment and ask yourself if you were committed to the Lord’s help in those temptations? How could you have better expressed your need of the Lord in each hour of your temptation?
Sing Verse 3 & Chorus.
#3 - I need the Lord’s help in ___GOOD TIMES AND BAD___.
“Rejoice in the Lord always… Do not be anxious about anything.” Philippians 4:4,6
We tend to connect Philippians 4:6 with the following verse 7. “By prayer and supplication present your requests to the Lord, with thanksgiving. And the peace of God, passing all understanding, will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.” Right? We have that one down pat we hear it so often. But isn’t it fascinating that maybe we should better connect verse 6 with verse 4, to rejoice in the Lord. In other words, it doesn’t matter whether you are rejoicing or whether you are anxious about something, you need the Lord in both situations!!!
Our TEMPTATION is to rejoice in the good times and feel like we have no need of the Lord then because things have gone so well for us. It is in that exact moment when we most have need to thank the Lord for our good fortune. We are to be thankful to the Lord for both the good things and the challenges in our lives. This is why Annie Hawks wrote: “I need Thee every hour in joy or pain. Come quickly and abide or life is vain.”
Annie would be reminded of these much needed words given from the Lord during a rejoicing time when - 17 years later - she lost her husband. He died when she was still only 54 years of age. They had been married for 30 years. Yet now she would face the next 30 years alone - without her husband by her side.
Or was she alone? Could it be that in both the writing of the lyrics, “I Need Thee Every Hour” when she was 37, that the Lord Himself was providing the consolation that she would require 17 years later. That she wasn’t alone. That she would never be alone. That Annie’s need for her Savior would always be met with the Presence of the Lord Himself? In good times and bad. In joy or pain? That life would never be vain?
Sing Verse 4 and Verse.
#4 - I Need The Lord’s help in ___LIVING HIS WILL___.
“For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.” Hebrews 10:36
Sometimes nothing is harder to know than doing the Lord’s will in our lives. Other than immediate threats to our health or the safety and health of our loved ones, this prayer to know God’s will in any given situation is our most oft-asked prayer.
“God, what would You have me do in this situation?”
“How can I respond most charitably?”
“God help me in this relationship to be like You because, honestly, that person just makes me so frustrated (…or so angry… or so annoyed!)”
Whenever we read God’s Word and then we measure His expectations against our own obedience, we know we come up lacking without His help.
Maybe what we should better struggle to understand is that there is 0 possibility of doing God’s will without God! Without God’s Presence. Without God’s power. Without God’s encouragement. Without God’s suggestion. Without God’s Words. In other words, walking with God’s Spirit (as we talked about 2 weeks ago) by definition is a requirement in order to live out His will for my life.
What is promised? The joy of the Lord. The endless help of our Lord. The never-exhausted bounty of His goodness. The always plentiful amount of His Presence. Everything we need to know and to do the will of the Lord. Impossible to do without Him. Impossible to miss with Him!
This is why Annie wrote: “Teach me Thy will - Thy rich promises fulfill!” Because she knew they went together. It’s a never-ceasing cycle of God’s blessing in the life of a Christ-follower.
Conclusion: Why has this simple hymn remained so popular 150 years after it was written. Because it is true. Because it is simple. These lyrics are not hard to remember. They are easy to memorize. The melody is also simple and repetitive. Here’s my challenge to you this week. Try to remember this one. Sing this one to yourself. When you are alone - getting ready to pray or doing a solo task or driving down the road - see how much of this song you can sing to yourself. Turn it into more than a song. Make it the prayer of your heart.
“I need Thee Oh I need Thee! Every hour I need Thee. Oh bless me now my Savior. I come to Thee!”