A prayer in the morning sets the tone for the day. For me, it makes the day go more smoothly. Even though I’m generally in a big hurry in the morning, anxious to get crossing things off my list, any time spent in prayer is certain to be returned later on through greater efficiency and greater purpose. That’s why I find the advice in this hymn very applicable – and very wise.
The first verse of DID YOU THINK TO PRAY? describes the protecting power of prayer. “Did you sue for loving favour as a shield today?” Before you left your room this morning, did you pray that your family would be kept safe? Did you pray for their physical protection and the protection of correct choices? King David recognized the need for this in morning prayers: “My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up… For thou, Lord, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield” (Psalm 5: 3, 12).
The second verse speaks of the calming power of prayer. “Did you plead for grace, my brother, that you might forgive another who had crossed your way?” Did you ask for a forgiving heart?
The third verse speaks of the power prayer has to soothe sorrow, as the Balm of Gilead soothes wounds. Balm of Gilead was a healing ointment made from the resin of bushes that grew in Gilead. Prayer is a healing ointment to the sorrow of our souls.
Bruce D. Porter said the following in a BYU talk:
“I am deeply thankful for the gift of prayer, which is surely among the greatest of gifts given by our Father in Heaven to His children on earth. Prayer is the ordained means by which men and women, and even little children, come to know God. It is our channel of communication with heaven. It is a priceless privilege.
“My mother grew up in the small town of Liberty, Utah. When she was young, in the 1930s, her ward had an organist who could play only one hymn. The congregation sang other hymns a cappella, but at least once every Sunday they would sing, “Ere you left your room this morning, Did you think to pray?”
“I especially love the third verse of the hymn:
When sore trials came upon you,
Did you think to pray?
When your soul was full of sorrow,
Balm of Gilead did you borrow
At the gates of day?
[“Did You Think to Pray?” Hymns, 2002, no. 140]
“I think of ‘the gates of day’ as the opening to a realm of eternal daylight—gates of prayer that connect us with our heavenly home and the realm of glory where God and Christ dwell. When we pray, we borrow strength, love, and light at the very door of eternity. (https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/bruce-d-porter_did-you-think-to-pray/)
Remember that Christ is at the door knocking. He wants to help us in every way he can but he waits for us to ask. Asking first thing in the morning gives us so much help for each challenging event that we might encounter through the day.
Mary A. Pepper Kidder (1820-1905) was the daughter of Daniel Freeman Pepper. She belonged to the Methodist Episcopal Church and lived most of her life in New York City.
Mary was blinded as a teenager but, fortunately, had her sight restored after a few years. Being blind for several years and not knowing whether sight would ever return would be no small thing. Perhaps it was that very challenge that helped her develop her inward sight – and skills as a poet.
Mary married Ellis Usher Kidder in 1844 and together they had three children. Ellis was a printer in a music publishing business. During the civil war, he enlisted as a 40-year-old private and, although surviving several battles, died of dysentery. Mary was left to provide for her three children, who still lived at home. What had once been merely a hobby became her livelihood as she took to writing hymns, temperance songs and patriotic songs for a living.
Tragedy struck for her soon after the war when her twelve-year-old son drowned. It struck again when her only daughter died at the age of 38. She seems to have had a close relationship with her surviving son and his wife. (http://drhamrick.blogspot.ca/2012/11/did-you-think-to-pray.html)
Mary Kidder clearly knew much of the sad and challenging parts of life. She would have known too the importance of arming herself with the protecting and guiding power of prayer each and every morning.
Congregation Choir Arrangements
Our Congregation Choir arrangements add a beautiful, alternate accompaniment to the original SATB found in the hymnbook. This alternate accompaniment could be used with the SATB as a piano/organ duet accompaniment for the entire congregation or for a large choir. It could also be used alone as a more embellished accompaniment for a solo singer or group, or just to enjoy as a piano solo.
Listen to our arrangements below. You will first hear just the organ doing the introduction. The piano joins in on the first verse and then the countermelody (vocal in one; oboe in the other) joins in for the second demonstration verse.
PURCHASE this arrangement with vocal countermelody here. Computer vocals sing the countermelody in our sample.
PURCHASE this arrangement with instrumental countermelody here. An oboe plays the countermelody in our sample.