“Those who are wise will instruct many.”
Daniel 11:33 NIV
We prepare our household to serve the Lord by instructing them. We take care to see that every person under our roof has all such knowledge necessary to salvation. It is our responsibility to see that our spouse and children are taught those things which belong to their eternal peace. Plan, especially for the Lord’s Day, that all may attend the public services for instruction. And take care that they have time daily for reading, meditation, and prayer. Neither should any day pass without family prayer, seriously performed.
You should particularly endeavor to instruct your children early, plainly, frequently, patiently. Whenever a child begins to speak, you may be assured that reason has begun to work. From that time, lose no opportunity of speaking of the things of God.
But speak plainly, using such words as little children understand—such as they themselves use. Do this frequently, lifting up your heart to God that He would open their understanding and pour His light upon them.
But all this will not avail unless you persevere in it. Never leave off till you see the fruit of it. To do this, you will find the absolute need of being endued with power from on high. Without this, I am persuaded, none will have passion sufficient for the work.
*From How to Pray: The Best of John Wesley on Prayer, published by Barbour Publishing, Inc. Used by permission.
As far as I can tell, Wesley, in this eighteenth lesson on prayer, is reflecting chiefly on his own childhood. According to Wikipedia, the following is a synopsis of John’s early life:
“John Wesley was born in 1703 in Epworth, 23 miles (37 km) north-west of Lincoln, as the fifteenth child of Samuel Wesley and his wife Susanna Wesley (née Annesley). Samuel Wesley was a graduate of the University of Oxford and a poet who, from 1696, was rector of Epworth. He married Susanna, the twenty-fifth child of Samuel Annesley, a dissenting minister, in 1689. Ultimately, she bore nineteen children, of which nine lived beyond infancy. She and Samuel Wesley had become members of the Church of England as young adults.
“As in many families at the time, Wesley’s parents gave their children their early education. Each child, including the girls, was taught to read as soon as they could walk and talk. They were expected to become proficient in Latin and Greek and to have learned major portions of the New Testament by heart. Susanna Wesley examined each child before the midday meal and before evening prayers. The children were not allowed to eat between meals and were interviewed singly by their mother one evening each week for the purpose of intensive spiritual instruction. In 1714, at age 11, Wesley was sent to the Charterhouse School in London (under the mastership of John King from 1715), where he lived the studious, methodical and, for a while, religious life in which he had been trained at home.”
Although Wesley puts the responsibility on the husband to train their wife and children, it seems in the Wesley home that Susanna had the personal education and dedication to carry forth that duty. In spite of his father doing his part to produce nineteen children, Samuel was often away from home, sometimes for extended periods. This arrangement, therefore, worked well for their household. Wesley was undoubtedly taught in the same manner he extols in this lesson; that being “to instruct your children early, plainly, frequently, patiently.”
In the times and social climate in which we live today, who has the training of our children been turned over to? If both parents work outside the home, daycare has become a necessity in our modern climate. At school age, unless parents choose to homeschool and control the curriculum, it is not only a question of who is training our children, but what are they learning? Many states are mandating sexuality education for younger and younger children, with some content that is contrary to Christian values and God’s moral law.
It is imperative, no matter how you as a parent choose to meet these challenges, to stay in communication with your children. Ask questions, show concern, and above all, pray with and for your children. Earnestly seek God’s wisdom and guidance.