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TLH 53, LSB 919 “Abide, O Dearest Jesus”

One of the blessings that we enjoy as members of a congregation of like-minded Christians is the opportunity for joint prayer. Though the Lord assures us that our individual prayers are both heard and answered, He also encourages us to join our hearts in prayer when we are gathered for worship. He promises that if as few as two of us agree in what we ask, it will be done for us by our Father in heaven (Matthew 18:19, 20).
With this encouragement from our Lord, we ought to value highly the prayers that we say together when we are gathered for worship. These include not only the collects, general prayers, the Lord’s Prayer, and special intercessions for fellow believers, but also the prayers in the hymns that we sing together.
“Abide, O Dearest Jesus” is one such prayer, usually sung at the close of a service. It recalls a simple request spoken by two disciples of Jesus on the day of His resurrection. They were on their way from Jerusalem to Emmaus when Jesus joined them, though they didn’t recognize Him until later. They were troubled by the crucifixion and death of Jesus, wondering how those things could possibly fit with their conviction that He was the promised Savior. Jesus cleared everything up for them by identifying and explaining many Old Testament prophecies of the Christ. They were so thrilled at what He was telling them that when they reached their destination, they asked Him to stay with them, which He was pleased to do.
At the close of a service we are in a place quite different from that of those disciples, for we know that it is Jesus Who has been present with us. Still, His willingness to stay at the request of only two should encourage us to pray the six stanzas of this hymn. In each of them we ask Jesus to abide with us and to give us one of the blessings of His presence that He promises in the Word.
“Abide, O dearest Jesus, Among us with Thy grace.” It is in Jesus that we have God’s grace and favor, for He has taken away our sins and restored us to fellowship with God. With the blessing of forgiveness, Satan can’t touch us.
“Abide, O dearest Jesus, Among us with Thy Word.” It is in His Word that Christ dwells with us. The Gospel of forgiveness of sins and eternal life is available to us throughout the week in our daily devotions.
“Abide with heavenly brightness Among us, precious Light.” It is in Christ that we have light in the knowledge of the true God and are delivered from the darkness of idolatry. It is in Christ that we have the Gospel of salvation by grace and are delivered from the error of work-righteousness.
“Abide with richest blessings Among us bounteous Lord.” The abiding Savior gives many blessings, the greatest of which is spiritual growth in grace and wisdom.
“Abide with Thy protection Among us, Lord, our Strength.” We have no power of our own to overcome the temptations of the world and Satan. We need Christ’s protection from these deadly enemies; we need His strength to overcome them.
“Abide, O faithful Savior, Among us with Thy love.” In His Word we have Christ’s faithful, unchanging love. He gives us steadfastness so that we persevere in faith to the end of our days and inherit everlasting life.
Just as Jesus was pleased with the urgent prayer of the two disciples on that first evening after His resurrection, so also He is pleased when we, together with our fellow believers, ask Him to go with us as we close our hour of worship and return to our daily routine.
We cannot overvalue the simple prayers that we offer together in our hymns.
John Klatt is a retired pastor. He lives in Watertown, South Dakota.