Hymn text by George Manwaring, 1854-1889. View the full text of this hymn.

At our monthly Sunday dinner with my parents, the conversation is often started by the request “So, tell us about church today.” Sometimes I have a lot to share. Other days, despite spending hours in Sunday meetings, I struggle to remember a single thing any speaker said, or the topic of any lesson. The fault is largely my own—it’s easy to be distracted, or to skim lightly on the surface of the lesson, never exploring how it might apply to my own life.

Today’s hymn is Lord, We Ask Thee Ere We Part. The first verse seems especially applicable to those Sundays when I struggle:

Lord, we ask thee ere we part,
Bless the teachings of this day.
Plant them deep in ev’ry heart,
That with us they’ll ever stay.

When we worship together on Sundays, we have an opportunity to grow. We can choose to take that opportunity, but it is not free. Growth requires work. As we seek the guidance of the Spirit, we can not only hear the teachings, but understand how they apply to our own lives and our own desires—the Spirit can plant those teachings in our hearts.

It does us no good to pray for spiritual growth if we refuse to act toward that goal. Spiritual experiences come not when we simply ask for them, but when we act for them. We must dedicate our time and our attention to them. If we want the “teachings of this day” to sink deep into our hearts, we must ponder them. We must examine our own activities, thoughts, and desires and determine whether they are in accordance with those teachings.

The following verses ask for spiritual blessings in various forms. In each case, the requested blessing can come only as we act. We cannot be “[led] in the way of truth” if we take no time to learn the truth. We cannot find “sweetest pleasure” in his service if we take no time to serve him. We cannot “live lives of holiness” if we take no time to seek out holy things.

If we will do our part, though, the Lord will magnify and multiply our efforts. When we search the scriptures, he will enlighten our minds, pouring out understanding. When we strive to develop Christlike qualities, he will give us both opportunities and strength to do so. When we seek holy places, he will teach us holy things.

So yes, we pray that the Gospel of Jesus Christ enter deep within our hearts. And then we act.

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