Prayer Considered and Applied
What would you do if your son was lost in a pit of sin and doctrinal evil? How would you respond to such a trial? Listen to how one man describes his mother:
“For my mother, your faithful servant, wept for me before you more than mothers weep when lamenting their dead children. By the ‘faith and spiritual discernment’ (Gal. 5.5) which she had from you, she perceived the death which held me, and you heard her, Lord. You heard her and did not despise her tears which poured forth to wet the ground under her eyes in every place where she prayed. . . . Despite my frequent efforts to climb out of it, I was the more heavily plunged back into the filth and wallowed in it. During this time this chaste, devout, and sober widow, one of the kind you love, already cheered by hope but no less constant in prayer and weeping, never ceased her hours of prayer to lament about me to you. Her ‘prayer entered into your presence’ (Psa. 87.3)” (3.11.19-20).
“She was . . . a servant of your servants: any of them who knew her found much to praise in her, held her in honor and loved her; for they felt your presence in her heart, witnessed by the fruits of her holy way of life. She had been the ‘wife of one husband’ (1 Tim. 5.9). She repaid the mutual debt to her parents; she had governed her house in a spirit of devotion (1 Tim. 5.4). She had ‘testimony to her good works’ (1 Tim. 5.10). She had brought up her children, enduring travail as often as she saw them wandering away from you. Lastly, . . . she exercised care for every body as if they were all her own children. She served us as if she was a daughter to all of us” (9.9.22).
“Another great gift with which you endowed that good servant of yours, in whose womb you created me, my God my mercy, was that whenever she could, she reconciled dissident and quarrelling people. She showed herself so great a peacemaker that when she heard from both sides many bitter things, such as the bilious and undigested vomit that discord brings up, the crude hatreds that come out in acid gossip in the presence of one woman who is a friend and in the absence of another who is an enemy, Monica would never reveal to one anything about the other unless it might help to reconcile them. . . . That is the kind of person she was because she was taught by you as her inward teacher in the school of her heart” (9.9.21).
Who is the man? Saint Augustine, the greatest theologian of the first millennium of the church and arguably of church history. The Reformation, after all, was a renaissance of the theology of Augustine. Who is the woman? Saint Augustine’s mother, Monica. Augustine recounted these words about his mother in his famous autobiography, Confessions. The lesson? Parents, never count the task you have been given by God lightly—pray, weep, exhort, and live out godliness before your children. May such words be written of you. Moreover, think of the impact of Monica’s life upon the church. It can be said that the theological impact of Augustine upon the church is a result of the tears and prayers of his mother.