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.
2  ’Twas He that led me thus to pray,
    And He, I know, has answered prayer;
But it has been in such a way,
    As almost drove me to despair.
3  I hoped that in some favoured hour,
    My Lord would answer my request,
And would by His constraining power
    Subdue my sins and give me rest.
4  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.
5  Then, with His own strong hand, He seemed
    Intent to aggravate my woe;
Thwarted the fair designs I schemed,
    Withered my pleasures; laid me low.
6  ‘Lord, why is this?’ I trembling cried,
    ‘Wilt Thou pursue my soul to death?’
‘This is the way,’ the Lord replied,
    ‘I answer prayer for grace and faith . . .
7  ‘These inward trials I employ,
    From self and pride to set you free;
And break your schemes of earthly joy,
    That you may find your all in Me.’
John Newton, 1725-1807