Oh, To Live Exempt From Care by the Energy of Prayer!

Poetry has fallen on hard times, especially sacred poetry with traditional rhythm and rhyme.  But take a moment to read this one from a couple of centuries ago.  Its author, Josiah Conder was born in London September 17, 1789.  At age five, an ill-fated inculcation for small-pox blinded him in one eye and he was treated by the new medical practice of electrical shocking.  It must have worked, because he went on to become a powerful writer, hymnist, journalist, abolitionist, and a layman in the Congregational Church of England.  One of his hymns provides a powerful lesson about not worrying about tomorrow, and it contains that great line (later the title of a famous devotional book, Daily Strength for Daily Needs).  Jesus taught us to take life one day at a time—step by step, day by day, and moment by moment.  Conder found the same lesson in the Lord’s commands to the Israelites to gather up only enough manna for the present day.  This is actually an old English hymn; you can hear the melody here.

Day by day the manna fell;
O to learn this lesson well!
Still by constant mercy fed,
Give me Lord, my daily bread.

“Day by day,” the promise reads,
Daily strength for daily needs;
Cast foreboding fears away;
Take the manna of today.

Lord! my times are in Thy hand;
All my sanguine hopes have planned,
To Thy wisdom I resign,
And would make Thy purpose mine.

Thou my daily task shalt give;
Day by day to Thee I live;
So shall added years fulfill,
Not my own, my Father’s will.

Fond ambition, whisper not;
Happy is my humble lot.
Anxious, busy cares away;
I’m provided for today.

Oh, to live exempt from care
By the energy of prayer:
Strong in faith, with mind subdued,
Yet elate with gratitude!