When I was in my middle 30s, I was swamped by children: six of them. The oldest was 10 or 11, the youngest maybe 12 months old. While I was very grateful for each of my children and loved being a mom, I was frequently exhausted by the constant round-the-clock needs of so many. And I hadn’t yet entered the teen years. I feel tired today just remembering.
During that decade of my life I discovered a small book of prayers by Susanna Wesley, mother of 19—including John, founder of the Methodist church, and Charles, composer of thousands of hymns. In those sippy cup, diaper bag, and Cheerio-cluttered years, I took delight reading the meditations of a woman who had three times the children but none of the conveniences I took for granted. Susanna’s prayers spoke deeply to my heart.
I remember trying to imagine her life in a little wood-frame English parsonage, two stories tall, I envisioned, but one that was completely destroyed by fire during her mommy years. Her husband, Samuel Wesley, a pastor, was also constantly needed by people. Their home life was one I could identify with but could hardly comprehend. Oh, and Susanna lost half of those 19 children to death before they reached adulthood. Gratefully that is beyond my experience.
I guess you could say that Susanna was a mentor to me, for she gently instructed me as I read her prayers regularly for that season of my life. We were kindred spirits with our many similar duties as wife, mom, and neighbor, both of us desiring to know God with so little uninterrupted time to actually devote to seeking Him.
Does this woman seem interesting to you, too? If you’d like to know her and her relationship with God better, I invite you to sign up to receive her prayers and those of other voices from the past every Wednesday. (Click here to see a sample prayer and sign up for “Ever His” prayer devotions on the right-hand side of the page.) I’ll be quoting some of the best phrases and prayers and then adding a few sentences of my own. My hope is that in our fast-paced, frantic world, these saints of old with their mysterious clutch of thees and thous will cause you and me to pause before this reverently-addressed God. And perhaps, in reply, we may grow hearts capable of greater worship and adoration.