Lord, Thou art Life, though I be dead;
Love’s fire Thou art, however cold I be:
Nor Heav’n have I, nor place to lay my head,
Nor home, but Thee.
I love Susanna Wesley; the woman was incredible.
She had nineteen – count ’em, nineteen – children.
Ten of which survived into adulthood. Two of which grew to become the renowned theologian John Wesley and the famous hymn composer Charles Wesley. Despite the certain chaos from so many children buzzing about, Susanna committed herself to spending daily time in prayer with God.
How did she do it?
She flipped her apron over her head.
Her children knew, when that apron was up, they could not bother Momma for she was spending time with God.
A few years ago I heard someone on the radio say that prayer was “visiting home”. I thought about what that statement meant for a long time. It forever changed the way I viewed prayer.
The idea of prayer as “going home” illuminated three important things for me:
1. This world is not my home; it is my temporary home. When I pray, I am talking with my Heavenly Father who is in my Heavenly permanent home.
They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. John 17:16 ESV
Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going. John 14:1-4, NIV
2. How I approach God in prayer isn’t as important as the One I am approaching. It was Mary who sat at Jesus’ feet – not Martha, the busy one in the kitchen – who, according to Jesus, chose the “good portion”. Mary is the model. God wants my heart – my quiet, attentive heart.
3. God isn’t interested in my perfection. God wants my love, not my lofty words.
And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Matthew 6:5-8, ESV
Approaching God any time, just to talk, just for comfort, just to visit, was an incredible idea to me. Like going to your childhood home and seeing cozy, familiar furnishings and smelling familiar smells, Heaven is where our soul longs to return.
Recently, I had a house full of teenage boys (See Oxen In My Stall) who were, along with my oldest son, building a large group project in our garage. Saws were screeching. Drills were buzzing. At the same time, my daughter, swamped at work, needed a lunch brought to her. My younger son, busy at a meeting, also needed a lunch. We had all been so harried that morning, trying to get everything accomplished, that there was no time to pack lunches for anyone and now I had starving children. In addition, the laundry was heaping, the ironing was overflowing, and I had preparatory work to do for our home school that coming week.
I felt overwhelmed. So overwhelmed.
I grabbed my coat and went outside to our back deck where a light snowfall had begun. I remembered the words of the radio announcer about prayer and I headed for Home. The air outside was still and crisp-clean. Large snowflakes fell like delicate petals to an already snow-white ground. The pine trees lining the back yard sparkled with a dusting of white. There was no sound, just a glittery peace. It was stunning. In the quiet of that mid-February snowfall I began talking to God. I didn’t ask for anything, really, I just told God how overwhelmed I felt and how beautiful the snowfall was. I thanked Him for his constant love and constant presence and his beautiful creation, and then I stood quietly, under God’s wing, and listened to the winter stillness. It felt good to be home.
Which brings me back to my dear Susanna Wesley.
As the pressures of keeping a house and caring for children overwhelmed her, Susanna Wesley tossed her apron over her face. The smell and feel of clean cotton on her nose comforted her. For a few brief minutes, while the children occupied themselves with other things, Susanna quickly visited Home. She left her chaotic world for the peace of God’s presence.
Lord, it’s good to be with you, she may have said.
Lord, please give me patience with all these children, I bet she prayed.
Father, I love you. I need Your help teaching these little ones about your love. I am so glad for this brief time alone with You. I am so glad you are right here with me anytime I need You.
One biography said that Susanna wished to be in prayer two hours every day, but that didn’t often happen (I wonder why???) Instead, she resorted to apron visits with God as often as she could.
Susanna reminds me that I need to make time regularly to crawl up on the Father’s lap. We all need time to visit home.
When parenting gets stressful Moms, go home. Go home often. God’s waiting for you.