Friendship develops by spending time together, talking and sharing life together. It takes time for the friendship to grow deep. A true friend loves and accepts us as we are.
So it is with our relationship with Jesus. Prayer is the love language of that unique friendship. Because He cares about our daily lives, He desires to hear from us.
Joseph Scriven, the author of the hymn text for “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” was a man of deep faith who had close friendship with the Lord. He spent his entire life showing real service to others.
Scriven faced an unexpected tragedy. On the night before he was to be married, his fiancée drowned. In his deep sorrow, Joseph sought the solace and support through his dearest friend Jesus.
After the tragedy he moved from Ireland to Canada where he determined to begin a new life and devote all of his extra time to being a friend and helper to others. He became known as the “Good Samaritan of Port Hope.”
Eventually he met a young woman and became engaged to her. In the weeks before the wedding, she became ill with pneumonia. Although Scriven vigilantly cared for her health, she passed away. Once again sorrow clouded his life. Once again he leaned into the love and comfort of the Savior, his closest friend.
About a year later he wrote a poem to his mother in Ireland. In it he included the words of a poem he had written entitled “Pray Without Ceasing”:
What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear. What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer! O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, all because se do not carry everything to God in prayer.
Despite the loss and loneliness he experienced, Joseph Scriven defined the essence of communication in friendship with God. He saw the character of God not as an impersonal force to be feared, but as a loving father and friend.
The words of What A Friend We Have in Jesus have spanned generations, and still brings hope and comfort today.
references: Amazing Grace, 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions, youtube video