muchfruit# – 07


This famous phrase, which Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892) placed in the mouth of King Arthur, speaking to the last of his faithful knights, Sir Bridivere, just prior to the King’s death, has an interesting context which may surprise many. It certainly surprised me. The following selection taken from Tennyson’s epic poem – “Morte D’Arthur” provides the setting, which is clearly Roman Catholic reflecting the faith of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table – but not shared by Tennyson himself:

“Then spake King Arthur to Sir Bedivere:I have lived my life, and that which I have done May He within Himself make pure! but thou, If thou shouldst never see my face again, Pray for my soul. More things are wrought by prayer Than this world dreams of. Wherefore, let thy voice Rise like a fountain for me night and day. For what are men better than sheep or goatsThat nourish a blind life within the brain, If, knowing God, they lift not hands of prayer Both for themselves and those who call them friend?”

The origin of the phrase, thus explained, relates to two ideas which biblically are distortions of truth at two levels. Firstly, the Bible condemns prayer for a person’s soul after death. The rescue (salvation) of a soul after physical death is never “wrought by prayer” or by anything else for that matter; and secondly it shifts the focus from God to prayer. It is akin to another phrase incorrectly used by preachers and church leaders – “Prayer Changes things” – NO! God changes things and He does it often in harmony with and response to the prayers of His people, and it always supports and never contravenes the clear Bible teaching on prayer. Jesus said, “If you abide in me and my words abide in you, you SHALL ASK WHAT YOU WILL, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified that you BEAR MUCH FRUIT: so shall you be my disciples”

Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire,
Unuttered or exprest,
The motion of a hidden fire
That trembles in the breast.

Prayer is the burden of a sigh,
The falling of a tear,
The upward glancing of an eye,
When none but God is near.

Prayer is the simplest form of speech
That infant lips can try;
Prayer the sublimest strains that reach
The Majesty on high.

Prayer is the contrite sinner’s voice
Returning from his ways,
While angels in their songs rejoice
And cry, “Behold, he prays!”

Prayer is the Christian’s vital breath,
The Christian’s native air,
His watchword at the gates of death–
He enters heaven with prayer.

The saints in prayer appear as one
In word and deed and mind,
While with the Father and the Son
Sweet fellowship they find.

Nor prayer is made by man alone–
The Holy Spirit pleads,
And Jesus on th’ eternal throne
For sinners intercedes.

O Thou by whom we come to God,
The Life, the Truth, the Way,
The path of prayer Thyself hast trod–
Lord, teach us how to pray.

Taken from – “Prayer is the Soul’s Sincere Desire” by James Montgomery, 1771-1854              Text From: THE LUTHERAN HYMNAL (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941)

God bless you as New Year’s Day is half way through “down-under”
Happy (BLESSED) New Year from Brisbane, Australia.

Philip L. and Kathleen Powell, family and friends from Christian Witness Fellowship.

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