A Modern Hymn – “Help Me” by Johnny Cash

When you think of psalms, Johnny Cash may not be the first person that comes to mind. But, much like David, he lived a life of spiritual complexity. Confessing faith in Christ after a period of serious sin, Cash knew well of this need for God. Much of his musical catalog is filled with deeply spiritual—more importantly, biblical—themes and truths. This is especially true of the song “Help Me” on his album American V: A Hundred Highways.

Penned by Larry Gatlin, the song has all of the hallmarks of a biblical psalm. It expresses remorse and repentance over sin, the pain of life experience, and the acknowledgment that God is needed to set things right. The lyrics are simple but not simplistic. There is serious weight behind words like “I never thought I needed help before; Thought that I could get by, by myself. Now I know I just can’t take it anymore. And with a humble heart, on bended knee, I’m beggin’ You please for help.” But it’s Cash’s performance which sets the tone for this song as something special. He gives a meditative, even prayerful, rendition. It’s easy to feel as if Cash means every word he is singing; speaking directly to his Heavenly Father.

I encourage you to listen to the song and see if it resonates with your experience of life in this sin-stained world. Maybe, like so many others, you have a tendency to try to forge your own path apart from God’s help—foolishness of the highest order. But I also encourage you to take away an example of how to pray. Though insincerity and irreverence are never appropriate, everyday language spoken with authenticity are welcomed. It is not great words which draws God’s ear but sincere faith (Matt 6:5–8). Do not be afraid to approach your Father with simple, honest words. Remember, he knows your needs before you ask and delights to give good gifts to his children (Luke 11:13).

“Help Me” by Johnny Cash

Oh, Lord, help me to walk 

Another mile, just one more mile; 

I’m tired of walkin’ all alone. 

And Lord, help me to smile 

Another smile, just one more smile; 

Don’t think I can do things on my own. 

I never thought I needed help before; 

Thought that I could get by, by myself. 

But now I know I just can’t take it anymore. 

And with a humble heart, on bended knee, 

I’m beggin’ You please for help. 

Oh, come down from Your golden throne to me, to lowly me; 

I need to feel the touch of Your tender hand. 

Release these chains of darkness 

Let me see, Lord let me see; 

Just where I fit into your master plan. 

I never thought I needed help before; 

Thought that I could get by, by myself. 

Now I know I just can’t take it anymore. 

And with a humble heart, on bended knee,

I’m beggin’ You please for help. 

With a humble heart, on bended knee, 

I’m beggin’ You please for help.

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