Norwegian: Det er makt i de foldede hender
Text: Trygve Bjerkrheim (1904-2001) Tune: Øyvind Fritjof Tønnesen (1917-1967)
1. There is strength in our hands when they’re folded
By themselves, unimportant and small.
When you turn to our God who is mighty.
You can trust he will hear as you call:
R/For the answer will come;
Angels fly with the news
Though not always as you might have prayed.
But our God who is faithful has promised to you,
Call on me; I will answer today.
2. You that pray for your children and loved ones,
Interceding for them year by year,
You can learn to be quiet and patient,
You can trust that one day you will hear:
3. There is strength in our hands when they’re folded
And we pray in the name of the Lord,
For one day where your time here has ended,
You will see how each prayer has been heard:
Tr. Gracia Grindal
“To pray is to let Jesus come into our hearts,” wrote Ole Hallesby (1879-1961) in his classic book Prayer. Do not miss this treasure if you haven’t read it. Or reread it if you have. There is a direct freshness about it. Now is a good time; it is both refreshing in clearing away the cobwebs in our brain we may have about prayer; and it teaches us what prayer is and how to pray.
Just one anecdote: Hallesby uses the wedding in Cana (John 2) as a beginning lesson as to what prayer is. Mary, the mother of Jesus, probably an aunt of the bridal couple charged with hospitality, sees the problem. The first thing she does, after seeing the need, is go to Jesus. That is the first step in prayer. Secondly, she states simply, “They have no wine.” She leaves it at that, simply telling him what the need is. Jesus rebukes her—Hallesby thinks because he himself is being tempted to show his power before his time—“Woman, my time has not yet come.” She doesn't answer him back. She simply goes to the servants to tell them to do whatever her son commands them.
Thirdly, he notes, Mary did not haggle with him. Hallesby says she had learned to know her Son well enough by then not to try to change his mind, but leave the issue of how, when and where the prayer will be fulfilled completely in his hands. Rise from your prayer, Hallesby says, now that we have left our situation in the hands of the Lord and say, “It will be interesting to see how He solves this difficulty.”
As the hymn says, your prayer will be answered, "though not always as you might have prayed." Instead of issuing instructions on how God should fix something, simply give it over to him in your prayers, and then go on with the day, at peace, filled with a wondrous curiosity about how God would act.
I learned that from my parents. We were so poor our first year at the church in Oregon that a few times we didn't know where our next meal was coming from--the treasurer often came late with the salary because money was tight in the congregation as well. We thought about money a lot. My mother was a fabulous manager and liked to see how cheaply we could live. A farm girl she knew how to can and freeze the abundant fruits and vegetable in the Willamette Valley, but that first spring she hadn't had the chance to put things by.
But, ultimately, Mother taught us God would provide. We would pray. Then watch to see how God would answer our prayers. Sometimes we would get food from a parishioner, a common practice in the parsonage, or someone would remember us with a five dollar bill. At the end of a meal sometimes she would say, "Well, this meal for five only cost 74 cents. Praise the Lord." She fretted more than Mary, to be sure, but at her best she was always interested in how God would answer the prayer, knowing he would. It changed the focus from if he would only answer to how is he going to do it this time? It led one forward in hope and curiosity. We call it faith. That is what a busy, active thing faith can be Luther said once. Faith is living close to the Lord, in constant conversation, always expecting surprises.
Trygve Bjerkrheim, the author of this hymn, wrote it after hearing a sermon on prayer. Bjerkrheim was associated with the Fjellhaug mission school in Oslo and wrote many original hymns as well as translated many for use in the Norwegian hymnals and songbooks of his day. This hymn was always on the top list of hymns for the Ønskekoncerts programs (something like the Hit Parade) on Norwegian radio and television, but never quite at the top. Tønnesen worked with the Innermission organization as musician, bible teacher, and composer. He wrote over fifty melodies for hymns. This is his most well known. Sigvart Dagsland’s rendition of it made it even more popular. The King and Queen of Norway requested it for the church services at Augsburg on their last tour in Minnesota.
Marianne Juvik Sæbø