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Lord, Meet Me in the Laundry Room

September 20, 2011

In my school work, one of my professors told us about his trip to London and visiting John Wesley’s apartment. Wesley had a room measuring about 4 foot by 4 foot off of his bedroom. Wesley would get up every morning at 4:00 am everyday and go into this small chamber to pray. That’s right. This little room was his prayer closet. Early Methodists called this room “The powerhouse of Methodism”. So you and I, indeed everyone who claims the name of Methodist owes our identity to that little man in that little room praying for an hour every morning. Then from 5-6am everyday he would spend in study of the scriptures, 6-7am was a worship service, and from 7-10am he and whoever was at his home spent the time in devotional reading of the church fathers.

I know that there are people in the church who get up early every morning to pray and study scriptures and I can tell you with great assurance that I am not one of them. I need every second of sleep that I am currently getting, but I still am in need with that time alone with God. So when I heard about Wesley and his prayer closet- and I took it as a place where a believer could find the solutions to the weightiest problems, a place that maybe if I had it, I could make my quiet time with God come true. It really bothered me that I wasn’t spending an hour or so in the morning in prayer and scripture reading and that I didn’t have a prayer closet to visit. I looked around my house, since it is certainly big enough to have a little prayer closet for me to go to and spend time with God.

Unfortunately as I looked around for some previously uncharted territory to claim as my own, I could find nowhere with the sustained privacy necessary for even a prayer shoebox. In a 131 year old house there are precious few closets and ours are all stuffed to the gills. To open one of our closets, does involve a lot of praying, since there is a very real possibility of being crushed in an avalanche, and I quickly close the door, but I don’t think that’s what Matthew 6:6 means when it says “ But whenever you pray, go into your closet and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” So an actual closet is out of the question.

When I was a new mom, I had older more experienced mothers tell me to put a devotional booklet like “Our Daily Bread” and bible in the bathroom since as a new mom, that is the only place that you may sit down and be alone in a day. Let me tell you, those women LIED! I have not been alone in the bathroom since 1993! With seven children at home and a husband, I do at least four loads of laundry a day in order to keep up with the dirty laundry and as I was in the laundry room one day, I was complaining to God that I didn’t have a time and place to pray alone and “What are you doing now?” was wordlessly impressed upon my heart. “Hmmm, talking to God and that would be praying…” So now I am happy to report that my laundry room is now my prayer closet. God knows to meet me in the laundry room. Usually when I go to do laundry I am left alone, too! Amazingly no one is in a hurry to help do laundry and so at least four times a day, everyday I have unhurried time with God.

Living in the shadow of Susannah Wesley

September 13, 2011

As a womb to tomb United Methodist and a mom of many I often get comparisons to Susannah Wesley.  For those who were not brought up Methodist or some other Wesleyan denomination, Susannah Wesley was the 25th of 25 children and was a mother to 19.  She is more importantly the mother of John Wesley the founder of the Methodist movement and Charles Wesley who wrote over 6000 hymns, many of which form the foundation of our hymnal.  Obviously, people bring up the comparison because one of the things that they know about her is that she was a mom of many,  but I think she is a pretty great woman for a clergy mom to be compared to for other reasons.  Many people will point out that Susannah was not a clergywoman.  Honestly? I think that is a technicality and is a product of the patriarchal time she lived in.  And I think it could be argued that she was in fact a model for clergywomen.

Reasons why I think Susannah Wesley is a pretty great role model for clergy moms

  • Susannah led her own “church”  – “[While her husband was away] there were no afternoon church services, [so] Susanna began an evening family gathering where they sang psalms, prayed and Susanna read a short sermon from her husband’s library. It began with the family and the servants but soon word spread and others neighbors appeared, and soon there were too many for the parsonage.” *
  • Susannah was a Preacher’s kid- While I am not a preachers kid, I think preachers kids are pretty swell especially since I am now a mom to PKs. “Born on January 20, 1669, as the daughter of a London pastor and the youngest of 25 children, Susanna Annesley was quite familiar with both a clergyman’s household and large families… Susanna was educated at home, with her lessons supplemented by the intellectual atmosphere of her father’s many scholarly visitors. One of these was the son of a Dissenting minister, Samuel Wesley, then a student.”*
  • Susannah was married to a Pastor- I am not married to a pastor, but many clergy moms are half of a clergy couple, so I thought it was something to note. “Samuel Wesley was ordained in 1689 and he and Susanna, who had also decided to affiliate with the Anglican Church, were married soon after when she was 20 and he was 28… Following his ordination and marriage, Samuel served other parishes before 1696 when he came to Epworth in the North Lincolnshire area, the church he would serve most of his life.”*
  • Susannah knew each of her kids as individuals– “She gave each child individual attention by purposely setting aside a regular time for each of them. In fact, she dedicated one hour a week to each child, which was no small task. She wanted to influence each one of them as an individual and make sure that each one knew the Lord and were growing in their faith. To do that she had to know them. To know them, she needed to invest the time. She reaped great rewards.” *
  • Susannah made time for a personal prayer life–  The story I most often hear from people talking to me about Susannah Wesley is how she prayed for 2 hours everyday.  If she couldn’t find a private place to pray, she would  flip her apron up over her head to pray.  There are many days in my life that I wish I wore an apron everyday, so I could flip it over my head and find  a private prayer place.
  • Susannah was no pushover“Susanna was a strong supporter of the Stuart King James who had been overthrown in 1688 and replaced by William, his Dutch son-in-law. In 1702 when in family prayers Samuel prayed for King William, Susanna refused to say ‘Amen.’ She was, as her son John described it later, ‘inflexible’, and Samuel was equally so.  ‘Sukey,’ he told her as he left home. ‘We must part, for if we have two kings we must have two beds.’ Susanna asserted that she would apologize if she was wrong but she felt to do so for expediency only would be a lie and thus a sin. Eventually after five months and the death of King William Samuel returned home and from their reconciliation was born John in 1703.”*

*excerpts from Susanna Wesley: Mother of Methodism” by Anne Adams.