© 2010 Rob Smith, CCLI song number 5881312. Devotional by songwriter Rob Smith, August 2015.
I wrote Undivided after spending a morning reflecting on Psalm 86, and in particular verse 11: “Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.”
Whilst the song was never intended to be a strict exposition of the entire psalm, I did try to incorporate a number of the psalm’s themes and phrases within it. The net result is a ‘prayer in song’ that, like Psalm 86, asks the Lord to help us respond to his grace with single-minded faithfulness and whole-hearted devotion.
The understanding behind such a plea (as the ‘Collects’ in the Book of Common Prayer remind us) is that we “cannot do any thing that is good without [him]” and therefore need the Lord himself to “grant us the help of [his] grace” that we might be “enabled to live according to [his] will.” This is a timely reminder for those of us who see ourselves as ‘self-starters’. Indeed, it’s hard to think of a greater enemy to prayer than (imagined) self-sufficiency!
Psalm 86, then, serves as a kind of ‘reality check’ for all who labour under such illusions. Its opening line is refreshingly honest: “Hear me, Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy” (v 1). Yet it also articulates the deepest determination of all who have been delivered from the depths and experienced God’s mercy: “I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever” (v 12). In seeking to capture and express both of these themes, ‘Undivided’ (I trust) does something similar.
I first introduced the song to a group of young ministers who were preparing for Anglican ordination. I’ve therefore sometimes thought of it as a prayer especially written for those who are in full-time ministry. But – as I hope you’ll be quick to remind me – all Christians are in full-time service, for there are no part-time disciples of Christ.
Undivided, then, is a song for everyone who has come to know the grace of our Lord Jesus and whose deepest longing is for their love and worship of him to be truly ‘undivided’.