It was time to pray. A woman of strong opinions and convictions, Susannah Wesley knelt, her Bible in hand, and pulled the large apron over her head. Her children knew not to interrupt her for the next hour. This was their mother’s daily time alone with God– time to seek His face and intercede for her children — and her routine never wavered.
Unlike the old woman in the shoe from the Mother Goose Rhyme, Susannah knew exactly how she wanted to raise her children. The mother of nineteen (only nine survived to adulthood) spent at least one hour a day praying for each and everyone of them. But that wasn’t the end of it. Susannah also made time to set aside an hour during the week with each of her children to focus only on that one child and to discuss spiritual matters. It was a disciplined household that ran like a finely tuned clock.
Susannah once wrote, “I sinsist upon conquering the child’s will early on. Self-will is the root of all sin and misery, so whatever cherishes this in children ensures their after-wretchedness. Whatever checks and mortifies it, promotes their future happiness and piety. When we consider that relihion is doing the will fo God and not our own, the one grand impediment to our temporal and eternal happiness is this self-will. thus no indulgence of it can be trivial, no denial unprofitable.
“Heaven or hell depends on this alone; so that the parent who studies to subdue self-will in his child, works together with God in the renewing and saving of a soul. The parent who indulges the child’s self-will does the devil’s work, makes religion impracticable, salvation unattainable, and does all that in him lies, to damn his child, soul and body, forever.”
It was not an easy life. Susannah’s husband, Samuel, was poorly paid as the rector of St. Andrew’s Church in Epworth, Lincolnshire, England, and was often away from home. It was left up to her to steer their children down a path of righteousness, while a the same time making sure the food stretched to feed all their hungry little mouths. But she never wavered. The London-born mother also found time to home-school her children for six hours each day, teaching them literature, music, mathematics, science, Latin, Greek, and theology.
Having grown up with her minister father (a Puritan) and known religious persecution, Susannah wanted her life to count for God. As a child, she prayed that He would use her to light a spiritual fire in England that would spread around the world. He did, but not in the way she imagined. Instead God called Susannah to serve as a mother, and it would be her son John, an ordained Anglican priest, who would experience a spiritual awakening and launch the Methodist movement. And her son Charles, also an Anglican priest, would give the church more than 9,000 cherished hymns.
Samuel Wesley once told hi wife that “some of the truly great people are the ones who were faithful in doing little things.” there is no doubt it was Susannah’s “little” prayers that changed the world.
Taken from the book Mothers of Influence published in 2005 by Bordon Books.