Tag Archives: Prayer

News About Christian’s Wife and Children

Christiana and Children

But pray, sir, while it is fresh in my mind, do you hear anything of his wife and children? Poor hearts! I wonder in my mind what they do.

Sagacity: Who? Christiana and her sons! They are like to do as well as did Christian himself; for though they all played the fool at the first, and would by no means be persuaded by either the tears or entreaties of Christian, yet second thoughts have wrought wonderfully with them; so they have packed up, and are also gone after him.

“Better and better,” said I. “But what! Wife and children and all?”

Sagacity: ‘Tis true. I can give you an account of the matter; for I was upon the spot at the instant, and was thoroughly acquainted with the whole affair.

“Then,” said I, “a man, it seems, may report it for a truth?”

Sagacity: You need not fear to affirm it. I mean, that they are all gone on pilgrimage, both the good woman and her four boys; and being we are, as I perceive, going some considerable way together, I will give you an account of the whole of the matter.

Notes and Commentary

The conversation between Bunyan and Mr. Sagacity now turns to Christian’s family. Perhaps the most perplexing question left unanswered in Part 1 of The Pilgrim’s Progress is: What became of Christian’s wife and children who remained behind in the City of Destruction? 

Continue reading Notes and Commentary

The text for The Pilgrim’s Progress
and images used are public domain
Notes and Commentary for Part II ©2014, 2021 Ken Puls

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from 
the New King James Version (NKJV) ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Return to A Guide to John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress Part 2

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The Purpose of Music in Worship

Hymn Ancient of Days

Excerpt from:  “Reforming Church Music”
A Paper presented at the 2001 Founders Conference

Ken Puls

God has purpose and intent in including music as an element of worship. The Bible has much to say about music and its role in worship. The following list summarizes seven roles that will help us define the purpose of music in worship.

1. Music is a primary means of praising God. The majority of references to music in the Bible, including verses that teach about music, as well as Psalms and other passages that are the texts to songs, are in the context of praising God. Through music we exalt, glorify, honor, bless, and adore God. We marvel at the perfection of His character, attributes, gifts, names, and works, ascribing to Him in song all that He is! The Psalter itself culminates in praise: 

Praise the LORD! 
Praise God in His sanctuary; 
Praise Him in His mighty firmament! 
Praise Him for His mighty acts; 
Praise Him according to His excellent greatness! 
(Psalm 150:1–2)

Music exists first and foremost to the glory and praise of God and Scripture convincingly bears this out.

2. Music is a primary means of giving thanks to God. Thanksgiving is a grateful acknowledgment or public confession of the goodness of God manifest in what He has done for His people. It is a grateful response to God for His deliverance, healing, forgiveness, salvation, and other blessings that He brings to us. Music accompanies thanksgiving in worship:

Hallelujah! I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart 
In the company of the upright and in the convocation. 
(Psalm 111:1)

Thanksgiving is also sung in the context of evangelism:

I will give thanks to You among the peoples, O Lord; 
I will sing praises to You among the nations. 
(Psalm 57:9)

As with praise, references in Scripture to giving thanks most often occur in song. 

3. Music serves as a means of prayer. Many of the songs and psalms of Scripture are addressed directly to God. David, for example, in Psalms 4 and 5 pours out his heart to God, brings petitions and asks for help and mercy. Throughout the Psalter, psalmists lament over sorrows, anguish over difficulties, confess their sinfulness, rejoice over God’s kindness, celebrate His goodness, and express numerous other emotions as they pour out their hearts before Him. Music can serve as invocation, petition, supplication, intercession, repentance, lamentation, and other forms of prayer, lifting our concerns before God.

4. Music serves as a means to proclaim truth. As we sing praise, thanksgiving, and prayer we voice our words to God, but music can also bring God’s Word to us. We can sing the words of Scripture, Psalms and other passages set to music. We can also teach and admonish one another in song with the truths of Scripture. Psalm 1, for example, is a didactic song that teaches us the difference between the blessed and the ungodly. Music helps us to remember and meditate on the truths of Scripture. It serves alongside preaching as a means of proclamation, edifying the church and evangelizing the lost, as it provides an emotional context in which we can interpret, understand, and express the truths of God’s Word. 

5. Music serves as a means of exhortation. Music lifts our words to God in prayer and brings God’s Word to us in proclamation, but it can also voice our words to one another. Psalm 95, for example, is a call to worship. We exhort one another with the words:

Oh come, let us sing to the LORD! 
Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; 
Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. 
(Psalm 95:1–2)

Through music God’s people speak to one another, stirring up one another to good works. Music can call us to worship, exhort us to love and serve one another, encourage us to live in obedience to God’s Word, admonish us to flee from sin and pursue holiness, and enjoin us to go out and witness and share the gospel.

6. Music serves as a means to confess our faith. With music God’s people can express common beliefs and doctrines as one voice. In the Old Testament Israel rehearsed their faith and history through music. Psalm 118, for example, is a public confession of the goodness and enduring mercy of God. The New Testament contains several confessional statements such as 2 Timothy 2:11 that many scholars believe are fragments of early hymns. Music provides an effective way to unite in declaring our confessions of faith. 

Perhaps the most notable example of this in church history is the “Doxology,” written by Thomas Ken in 1709, a musical affirmation of the doctrine of the Trinity:

Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

7. Finally, music serves as a means of enriching worship with beauty. According to Scripture, singing praise to God is pleasant and beautiful. Psalm 147:1 reads: 

Praise the LORD! 
For it is good to sing praises to our God; 
For it is pleasant, and praise is beautiful.

It is good when we unite our voices together in singing to God. Music provides a beautiful garb in which we dress our words and actions in worship. It is a pleasant means of joining together to express our love and devotion to God in worship.These are seven roles or functions of music that God affirms in His Word. God has commanded us to make music and included it in His design for worship. It is not the purpose of music to amuse, manipulate, or entertain us in worship. God has given us music that we might beautifully lift our praise, thanksgiving, and prayers to Him; that we might proclaim the truth of His Word, confess our faith, and exhort one another to good works as we gather in corporate worship.


Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from 
The New King James Version® (NKJV™), copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. 
Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Download a PDF of this Excerpt

Excerpt Citation

Ken Puls, “Reforming Church Music,” in Reclaiming the Gospel and Reforming Churches: The Southern Baptist Founders Conference, 1982–2002, ed. Tom Ascol (Cape Coral, FL: Founders Press, 2003), 438–442.

The book Reclaiming the Gospel and Reforming Churches is a compilation of papers presented over the first 25 years of the Founders Conference and is available for purchase from Founders Press.

O Lord I Would Delight in Thee

Lake and Waterfall

To have Christ is to have all we need! To rest in Him is more valuable and more satisfying that anything this life can offer. But too often the trials and troubles of this world overwhelm us and keep us from fully laying hold of the riches we possess in Christ.

John Ryland, an English Baptist pastor and hymn writer, understood this struggle of faith. In 1777 (the same year he wrote “Sovereign Ruler of the Skies”), he composed the hymn “O Lord, I Would Delight in Thee.” The hymn is a prayer expressing his desire for a “stronger faith” anchored in God’s sure Word. In it he exposes his own (and our) folly. We focus too intently on the parched world around us, whose “streams are dried,” bemoaning our thirst, when all the while Christ is near— “a fountain which will ever run with waters sweet and clear.” Ryland reminds himself of God’s goodness. “While Christ is rich,” we “can’t be poor”! Even if all the joys and blessings of this world fade away, Christ’s “fulness is the same.”

The hymn was written December 3, 1777 and published in Rippon’s Selection (1798). The lyrics were heartfelt and especially meaningful to the hymn writer. According to John Julian in the Dictionary of Hymnology, Ryland attached a note to the manuscript that read: “I recollect deeper feelings of mind in composing this hymn, than perhaps I ever felt in making any other.”

May God stir in us such heavenly desires! In these uncertain times, may we cast all our cares upon the Lord, and may our “great concern” be to love and praise Him more!

O Lord, I Would Delight in Thee

“Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.”
(Psalm 37:4)

O Lord, I would delight in Thee,
And on Thy care depend;
To Thee in ev’ry trouble flee,
My best, my only Friend.

When all created streams are dried,
Thy fulness is the same;
May I with this be satisfied,
And glory in Thy Name.

Why should the soul a drop bemoan,
Who has a fountain near—
A fountain which will ever run
With waters sweet and clear?

No good in creatures can be found,
But may be found in Thee;
I must have all things and abound,
While God is God to me.

O that I had a stronger faith,
To look within the veil;
To credit what my Savior saith,
Whose words can never fail.

He that has made my heav’n secure
Will here all good provide;
While Christ is rich, I can’t be poor;
What can I want beside?

O Lord, I cast my care on Thee;
I triumph and adore;
Henceforth my great concern shall be
To love and praise Thee more.

“O Lord, I Would Delight in Thee” 
Words by John Ryland, (1753–1825)
Music by John Herbert (1852–1927)
Words and Music ©Public Domain

Download free sheet music (PDF), including chord charts and an arrangement of the hymn tune LAFAYETTE for classical guitar. 

More Hymns from History

More hymns arranged for Classical Guitar

Fear the Lord

Road and pool near mountains

Pages from My Prayer Book

“Lord, work in us that fear of You which is the beginning of wisdom. Let us be instructed by this wisdom, which is the fountain of life even as it teaches us to depart from the snares of death. Give us an undivided heart that we may fear Your name and keep Your commandments, which is the whole duty of man. Put Your fear in our hearts, that we may never depart from You. Let us be zealous for Your fear. Let us live in the fear of the Lord every day, and all day long.” 

  — from Matthew Henry’s A Way to Pray

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
But fools despise wisdom and instruction.
(Proverbs 1:7)

The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life,
To turn one away from the snares of death.
(Proverbs 14:27)

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:
Fear God and keep His commandments,
For this is man’s all.
For God will bring every work into judgment,
Including every secret thing,
Whether good or evil.
(Ecclesiastes 12:13–14)

And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, 
that I will not turn away from doing them good; 
but I will put My fear in their hearts 
so that they will not depart from Me. 
(Jeremiah 32:40)

Here is a link to a PDF of the page from my Prayer Book

Find more writing and resources from Ken Puls

Rest in Christ

Road through Autumn Trees

Pages from My Prayer Book

Over the past many years, I have compiled a Prayer Book. It includes people I remember in prayer (family, church members, students and colleagues at the college where I teach), lyrics to songs (songs I have written, songs I find meaningful), Scripture passage (for meditation and memorization), as well as other notes and quotes.

One of the pages I visit often is an encouragement to learn patience and rest in Christ. On the page is a list of truths to remember (and preach to myself!) when facing difficult and uncertain times. I wrote down the list many years ago while taking notes in a Sunday School class. I don’t remember the date, but the class was taught by Steve Garrick when my family and I were at Heritage Baptist Church in Mansfield, Texas.

The notes have been valuable in pointing me many times back to God’s Word. In the uncertain times we face today, I hope you find them valuable as well.

Rest in Christ

Help me, Lord, to grow in patience and longsuffering, to learn more and more to rest in Christ.

Help me to remember:

  1.  God is absolutely sovereign. I must trust Him fully and not lean on my own understanding.
  2. God is always good—always. I must look to the cross and remember: He loves me and will do everything needed to complete the good work begun in me.
  3. God gave me my life for His glory, not the pursuit of my own pleasure. I must walk in contentment, submissive to His will.
  4. God never reveals my future or explains His decrees. I must walk by faith and not by sight.
  5. God hold me responsible for all my thoughts, actions, and reactions. I must walk in humble obedience to His Word. 

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22–23).

Here is a link to a PDF of the page from my Prayer Book.

Find more writing and resources from Ken Puls

O Spirit Now We Thank You

Open Bible

O Spirit, now we thank You
For giving us Your Word.
Please bless its proclamation,
The truths that we have heard.
Indwell us and empow’r us,
And cause us to obey;
Shine now the light of Scripture
On all we do and say.

Great Artist of the Scriptures,
In beauty You have made
God’s Word to shine in glory
That cannot fail or fade.
In poetry and proverbs,
Through narrative and line;
In prophecy and hist’ry,
God’s truth in splendor shines.

You, down through many ages
Inspired men to write,
Progressively revealing,
You brought God’s truth to light.
O Spirit, come illumine
This truth for us today;
And guide us in sound doctrine,
The straight and narrow way.

Wield now Your Sword, O Spirit,
The quick and living Word,
And rend our hearts asunder
With truths that we have heard.
O search us now and know us,
Expose iniquity;
Conform us to our Savior,
And holy we shall be.

Words and Music ©1998 Kenneth Puls
In Hymns of Grace (1998) by Ken Puls
And Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs (2004) Founders Press, Cape Coral, FL

This hymn is a prayer addressed to the Holy Spirit, who inspired and crafted the Word of God. It is written to serve as a closing hymn following the preaching of the Word. In the hymn we respond to the preaching by asking the Spirit to “bless its proclamation” and apply it in an effective way to our lives. The final verse is based on Hebrew 4:12. Scripture is the sword of the Spirit, who skillfully and lovingly lays bare our hearts with truth.

“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

The idea for the hymn came in October 1995 during a Sunday School class taught by Steve Garrick at Heritage Baptist Church. Steve was teaching a series of lessons on the person and work of the Holy Spirit. During the lesson on October 22nd, he compared the Spirit’s work in bringing us God’s Word to that of an artist. When God revealed His Word to us, he did not package it as a “systematic theology.” He chose and inspired men to write from their own experiences in poetry, proverb, narrative, history, and prophesy. The Bible is a great work of art crafted by the Spirit “through many ages” as God-breathed revelation. I thought during the class that the comparison would work well for lyrics to a hymn. I finally wrote the hymn several months later. I finished the lyrics on July 8, 1996 while driving to Dallas Baptist University, where I was teaching Classical Guitar during the summer semester. The hymn tune is named for Pastor Steve Garrick.

Download the lyrics and free sheet music for this hymn, including an arrangement of the tune GARRICK for classical guitar.

More Hymns and Songs by Ken Puls

Come Boldly to the Throne of Grace

Mountain reflection on water

We have every reason to pray. We are fragile and have great needs. God is great and does wondrous things (Psalm 40:10). We are burdened and weighed down by sin. God is “is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy” (Psalm 103:8). We are troubled and oppressed. God alone can save; salvation belongs to Him (Psalm 3:8). 

Hope and help are always close at hand, yet too often we fail to pray. The very reasons that should compel us to seek God in prayer become the cause of our discouragement. We feel weighed down by our needs and undone by our sin. We feel weak and ashamed. We wrongly conclude that God will reject us when we come to Him. We think that He will turn us away, and so we do not pray.

Daniel Herbert’s hymn, “Come Boldly to the Throne of Grace,” is a welcoming encouragement to pray. Though we are “wretched sinners,” we can lay our load at Jesus’ feet. Though we are “lost and blind and lame” in our sin, the Lord will befriend us. Though we are “bankrupt” and feel the terrible weight of sin’s condemnation, we are assured of the promise: “The Lord will take you in.” Because of Christ we can “come boldly to the throne of grace” and “obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).  

Come Boldly to the Throne of Grace

Come boldly to the throne of grace,
Ye wretched sinners come;
And lay your load at Jesus’ feet,
And plead what He has done.
“How can I come?” some soul my say,
“I’m lame and cannot walk;
My guilt and sin have stopped my mouth;
I sigh but dare not talk.”

Come boldly to the throne of grace,
Though lost and blind and lame;
Jehovah is the sinner’s Friend
And ever was the same.
He makes the dead to hear His voice,
He makes the blind to see.
The sinner lost He came to save,
And set the pris’ner free.

Come boldly to the throne of grace,
For Jesus fills the throne;
And those He kills He makes alive,
He hears the sigh or groan.
Poor bankrupt souls; who feel and know
The hell of sin within,
Come boldly to the throne of grace,
The Lord will take you in.

“Come Boldly to the Throne of Grace” 
Words by Daniel Herbert (1751–1833)
From Selection of Hymns edited by William Gadsby, 1838
Tune: HERBERT
Music by Tom Wells, 2001
Words ©Public Domain
Music ©2001 Tom Wells (Used by Permission)

Tom Wells (Heritage Baptist Church in Mansfield, Texas) composed the tune for this hymn. Download free sheet music (PDF), including a guitar chord charts and an arrangement of the hymn tune HERBERT for classical guitar. 

More Hymns from History

More hymns arranged for Classical Guitar

Lord We Come to Hear Your Word

Pulpit and Bible

When we hear or read God’s Word, we should always pray for understanding and wisdom. And when we have opportunity to gather with the church and sit under the preaching and teaching of God’s Word, we should pray for the pastor. Apart from God’s grace, all our efforts to worship and serve Him will be in vain.

Lord We Come to Hear Your Word

A Prayer for God’s Grace in Worship

Lord, we come to hear Your Word.
Shine Your light! Unsheathe Your sword!
Send Your Spirit forth in pow’r.
Come and bless Your church this hour.
We confess, our thoughts have strayed;
Minds distracted and dismayed.
On the Son fix now each thought;
Help us worship as we ought.

Lord, as we prepare to hear,
Wake each soul, unstop each ear.
Conquer every stubborn heart;
Mercy, saving grace impart.
We confess, without Your grace,
Vain our efforts in this place.
Send illumination’s light;
Open eyes and give us sight.

Lord, we lift up to Your care
Him who stands now to declare
Truth that teaches, warns, consoles;
Bless this feast to feed our souls.
For Your Word, O Lord, we yearn;
Empty, let it not return.
Come, accomplish all Your will —
Draw, convict, give life and fill.

For Your Word, O Lord, we yearn;
Empty, let it not return.
Come, accomplish all Your will —
Draw, convict, give life and fill.
Draw, convict, give life and fill.

Words ©1998 Kenneth A Puls

New Music and Arrangement by Drew Hodge ©2012 Desert Springs Church

Listen to this setting of “Lord, We Come to Hear Your Word” recorded at Desert Springs Church in Albuquerque, NM.

 

And download the music from band camp:

 

More Music on Bandcamp by Desert Springs Church

More Music on Bandcamp by Ken Puls

A Prayer for the New Year

This hymn, entitled “Prayer for a Blessing” by John Newton is from Part I “Seasons” of Book II of Olney Hymns and was sung “before annual sermons to young people, on New Years’ evenings.”

May God keep us near His throne of grace and may this be our prayer as we begin the new year.

Church and Steeple

Prayer for a Blessing

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

Now, gracious Lord, Thine arm reveal
And make Thy glory known;
Now let us all Thy presence feel
And soften hearts of stone!

Help us to venture near Thy throne
And plead a Savior’s name;
For all that we can call our own,
Is vanity and shame.

From all the guilt of former sin
May mercy set us free;
And let the year we now begin,
Begin and end with Thee.

Send down Thy Spirit from above,
That saints may love Thee more;
And sinners now may learn to love,
Who never loved before.

And when before Thee we appear,
In our eternal home,
May growing numbers worship here,
And praise Thee in our room.

“Prayer for A Blessing”
Words by John Newton (1779)
Music by Robert Simpson (1790–1832)
Words and Music ©Public Domain

Download free sheet music (PDF) for this hymn, including a guitar chord chart, and an arrangement of the hymn tune BALERMA for classical guitar.

More Hymns from History

More Hymns arranged for Classical Guitar

Teach Me O Lord Thy Way of Truth

Open God's Word

If we are to know truth, we must abide in God’s Word. If we are to follow Christ, who is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), we must know and obey God’s Word. Jesus said, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31–32).

But truth is not something we can comprehend on our own. One thing we must always do when we open God’s Word, is pray that His Spirit would illumine our understanding and help us rightly apply truth. Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 2:14 that without the Spirit, we cannot understand the Word. To those who are dead in sin and have no spiritual life, the truth of God’s Word, in fact, appears to be foolishness. Any time we read the Bible, or hear it taught and preached, we should pray that God would teach us, give us understanding, and help us walk in truth.

This is how God instructs us to pray in His Word. The book of Psalms serves as the Bible’s inspired songbook, providing us divinely prescribed instruction on how we must sing and pray and worship the Lord. In Psalm 119:33–40 the psalmist prays:

Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes,
And I shall keep it to the end.
Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law;
Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart.
Make me walk in the path of Your commandments,
For I delight in it.
Incline my heart to Your testimonies,
And not to covetousness.
Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things,
And revive me in Your way.
Establish Your word to Your servant,
Who is devoted to fearing You.
Turn away my reproach which I dread,
For Your judgments are good.
Behold, I long for Your precepts;
Revive me in Your righteousness.
(Psalm 119:33–40, NKJV)

The following setting of this portion of Psalm 119 is from The Psalter, 1912. Take time to read (and sing) the words. And make this your prayer as you look to God’s Word and seek to walk in its light.

Teach Me O Lord Thy Way of Truth

“Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes,
And I shall keep it to the end” (Psalm 119:33).

  1. Teach me O Lord Thy way of truth,
    And from it I will not depart;
    That I may steadfastly obey,
    Give me an understanding heart.
  2. In Thy commandments make me walk,
    For in Thy law my joy shall be;
    Give me a heart that loves Thy will,
    From discontent and envy free.
  3. Turn Thou mine eyes from vanity,
    And cause me in Thy ways to tread;
    O let Thy servant prove Thy Word,
    And thus to godly fear be led.
  4. Turn Thou away reproach and fear;
    Thy righteous judgments I confess;
    To know Thy precepts I desire;
    Revive me in Thy righteousness.

“Teach Me O Lord Thy Way of Truth”
Words from Psalm 119:33–40, The Psalter, 1912
Tune: CROSLAND (L.M.)
Music by Tom Wells, 2001
Words ©Public Domain
Music ©2001 Tom Wells (Used by Permission)

Tom Wells (Heritage Baptist Church in Mansfield, Texas) composed an excellent tune for this setting of Psalm 119:33–40. Download free sheet music (PDF), including a guitar chord chart, an arrangement of the hymn tune CROSLAND for classical guitar.

More Hymns from History

More hymns arranged for Classical Guitar