Prayers answered by crosses by John Newton

On Sunday, January 26th, I preached a sermon on Mark 4:35-41 (“The Lord of the Storm”) and discussed, in part, the role of life’s storms as instruments in the hands of God. During my preparation I came across the poem below by John Newton (most famously known for writing Amazing Grace) called Prayers Answered by Crosses. What he calls “crosses” we'd also call storms, suffering or difficulty. If you’re currently in the middle of a storm or you’re praying to know God more deeply, you should read this and take heart. In God’s hands, no storm is in vain.

By John Newton

I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith and love and every grace,
Might more of his salvation know,
And seek more earnestly his face.

‘Twas he who taught me thus to pray;
And he, I trust, has answered prayer;
But it has been in such a way
As almost drove me to despair.

I hoped that, in some favoured hour,
At once he’d answer my request,
And by his love’s constraining power
Subdue my sins, and give me rest.

Instead of this, he made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart,
And let the angry powers of hell
Assault my soul in every part.

Yea, more, with his own hand he seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe,
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.

Lord, why is this? I trembling cried;
Wilt thou pursue this worm to death?
This is the way, the Lord replied
I answer prayer for grace and faith.

These inward trials I now employ
From self and pride to set thee free,
And break thy schemes of earthly joy,
That thou may’st seek thy all in me.