by: Rich Vaughan
He was five years old and he was in a lot of trouble. His house was on fire and in the panic and rush for the entire family to get out he had been overlooked. How could a parent do that you wonder? When you consider he was one of 19 children it helps to explain how he got overlooked! The parents had successfully gotten 18 of their children out of the burning parsonage/manse. The year was 1708 and the little boy was John Wesley who later would become the founder of Methodism. But at this moment “little Johnny”, in his panic, had run upstairs and was leaning out of an upstairs window before anyone realized he had not gotten out of the house with his other brothers and sisters. By the time Johnny was seen it was too late to re-enter the house because of the intense fire that was rapidly spreading.
Now obviously John Wesley survived the fire, but how and why is a rather interesting story. You see, John’s father was an Anglican (Church of England) priest, and his mother (Susanna) was a devout Christian woman. As soon as both parents realized that John was trapped inside, two things happened: The first was that John’s father fell on his knees in prayer. The second was that John’s mother ran next-door to the neighbor’s home and got a ladder. The ladder was used to rescue John from the upstairs window before the entire house was consumed by the fire. I admire John’s father’s faith but I admire his mother’s common sense even more! Yet, there is a powerful message for us in this two-part event.
Prayer is without a doubt one of the most important tools that we have as Christians. But there are times when we miss prayer’s total package. Sometimes we are the answer to the prayer. What I mean is that there are times when we should back up our prayers with our actions as well. John’s father’s prayer for his little boy trapped in a burning house may have seemed futile to those watching that day. But who is to say that it was not his father’s prayer that allowed God to touch the heart and mind of John’s mother so she would think of the ladder? Perhaps it was a 2-part prayer – words and action!
In our Christian walk a prayer life is vital. And in that prayer life it is important to remember that there are not only times that we should be speaking and listening to God, but also moments when he is directing us to be His instruments and to act for him in our world. Remember that every time you pray. It might just be you who needs to “get the ladder” to help someone! Amen & Amen.