I think the key thought throughout this prayer, is “We are weak but God is Strong.”
He begins this prayer, with a recognition of his need (which is what we all need). God commands us to “Be filled with the Spirit.” But our problem is our flesh. We were born in this world and we live in this world. It’ all we know and we love it. But it is temporal; it’s all going to burn. We need to be weaned from the natural world and drawn close to Him. But we are weak and unable to love God. We need the power of the Spirit to “descend on us and to make us love Him.” If God doesn’t make us love Him, we will not love Him.
The second verse does not appear in many of our contemporary hymnbooks, probably because of errant teachings that began in the Pentecostal denominations in the 1920s. That’s unfortunate because the implications, of this verse, are important:
Throughout their history, the Jews demanded signs and wonders. But in these days, God HAS revealed Himself. The Word of God became flesh, and now, we don’t need signs and wonders. Jesus said, “It is a weak and adulterous generation that seeks after a sign.”
God is real and His Spirit indwells His people. Our problem is that our souls have been darkened by sin and so our faith is clouded. So Croly prays: “Take the dimness of my soul away.”
The next verse summarizes another command and exposes our weakness. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.” We all fail that commandment; we are unable to keep God’s commandments. That makes us all guilty sinners, deserving of death.
But the author points to our hope; “I see Thy cross there, teach my heart to cling.”
The cross is not just the beginning of our salvation. It’s always at the forefront of our new lives. It was the blood of Jesus that saved us and atoned for our sin. It’s His cross that we cling to; It was His shed blood and the sacrifice of His body that Jesus commanded us to remember whenever we gather together. We cannot save ourselves. “Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission for sin.”
The verse continues, "O, let me seek Thee and, O, let me find." That phrase seems contradictory to the modern philosophy of the seeker-sensitive church growth culture today, but according to Scripture, the natural man is hostile to God and does not seek Him. If God does not seek and save those who are lost; if He does not reveal Himself, we have no power to find Christ.
Finally, in verse five, he writes, "Teach me to love Thee as Thine angels love, one holy passion filling all my frame."
Do we love God the way His angels love Him? They are completely dedicated to Him; They obey Him with total submission and they surround Him with adoration. And that, by the way, is what true worship looks like. So George Croly ends this amazing prayer with a request; that the Spirit of God would descend on him, fill him with a holy passion, and consume him with a burning love for the Lord.