The Praying Example
In the early 1700’s, if a passing stranger walking through Epworth, England had peered through the window of the local Anglican rector’s home, he might have seen a woman sitting in a chair with her kitchen apron pulled over her head while ten children read, studied, or played all around her.
The woman under the apron would have been Susanna Wesley, who assumed this odd posture for two hours almost every day. Two of those children would have been little boys–John and Charles Wesley–who would grow up to shape the course of Christian history and thus change the world.
Susanna took her relationship with God as seriously as she did her duties as a wife and mother. Early in her life, she vowed that she would never spend more time in leisure entertainment than she did in prayer and Bible study. Even amid the most complex and busy years of her life as a mother, she still scheduled two hours each day for fellowship with God and time in His Word. The challenge was finding privacy in a house filled to overflowing with ten children.
Mother Wesley’s solution to this was to bring her Bible to her favorite chair and throw her long apron up over her head, forming a sort of tent. Every person in the household knew to respect this signal. When Susanna was under her apron, she was with God and was not to be disturbed except in the case of the direst emergency. There in the privacy of her little tent, she interceded for her husband and children and plumbed the deep mysteries of God in the Scriptures.
Her son, John Wesley, is estimated to have preached to nearly a million people in his long, fruitful life. Wesleyan theology formed the foundation for the holiness movement in the United States and other groups which compose the colorful mosaic of Pentecostalism and the charismatic movement. John’s younger brother, Charles, was very much a partner and vital contributor to these accomplishments. He wrote more than 6,600 hymns, many of which are still in hymnals in the world over today.
There was no amount of distraction that could keep Susanna from prayer and the Bible. That kind of life, deeply rooted, produced great fruits, as evidenced not only by the people who came to hear her teach but also by the children she influenced. The great truth in her story is how prayer does not occupy the stage of activity. Its power is in the quiet trust of gentle souls who are willing to pull away every day to commune with God.