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Gerhard Tersteegen
His Daily Life

(The information provided comes from
Gerhard Tersteegen: Life and Selections
by H. E. Govan.)

Becoming a Weaver:

“He aimed at securing a more favorable environment for a devout life. After a couple of years of commercial life on his own account, he concluded that the rushing current of it was too rapid for his frail barque, and hindered his progress in grace. A pious weaver with whom he had formed an acquaintance then proposed to teach him his trade; but this in turn proved too severe an employment for his fragile system, and provoked frequent headaches. Eventually he removed to a little cottage near Mulheim, and began the business of ribbon-weaving. In this simple vocation he congratulated himself, he could spend a retired and prayerful life. It could be carried on in his own home, with only the slightest intercourse with the outer world. The only person he need have much contact with was the little girl who gave attendance during part of the day to wind his silk. Beyond that, let him commune only with his books and his God.

He settled down, therefore, to a life of the plainest and most secluded character. His food—milk and water and meal generally its sole ingredients—was cooked by his own hands, and partaken of but seldom. Though his hours of labour were long, his earnings would appear to have been but scanty; and at times he was in dire straits, not knowing where the next day’s food was to come from. Yet, however narrow his income, he ever showed himself extremely liberal to the poor. In the dusk, when he might not be recognized, he would steal out to the homes of the sick and the needy, and minister to them all that could be spared from his little store.” pp. 38,39

Relationship to His Family:

“A manner of life so unusual scandalized his more sordid relatives. ‘His relations, says Miss Winkworth, ‘who seem to have been a thriving and money-getting people, were so ashamed of this poor and peculiar member of the family, that they refused even to hear his name mentioned; and when he was sick he suffered great privations from want of care.’” pp. 39,40.

Importance of Prayer and Meditation:

“The great importance of perseverance in the exercise of prayer and inward retirement may be sufficiently learnt,” he declares, “next to the experience of it, merely from the tempter’s artifices and endeavors to allure us from it and make us negligent of it. He knows that by this delightful exercise alone his gloomy empire in the soul will necessarily be destroyed, through the imperceptible influx of the light, love, and life of Jesus; and that all the flowers and fruits of the fairest gifts of grace and virtue fade of themselves, if he can only break them off from this their root.” p. 49

Daily Routine:

Started with hymn.
Light breakfast.
Brief Prayer request Work from 6 AM to 11 AM.
Prayer for one hour.
Lunch.
Work for another five hours.
Prayer for one hour.
Literary work in the evening.

Responding to Letters:

“As his spiritual skill became known, he was invaded with letters from souls in other parts seeking counsel and guidance. To all these, though he would not suffer himself to be unduly pressed or hurried, he gave considerate and painstaking reply, after presenting the cases in prayer before the Lord. At times it might be that bodily infirmity would defer his answer, but the inquirer was not forgotten the while.” pp. 51,52.

Ministry Activity:

“From the age of thirty to sixty he spent in the most incessant exertion for the good of others, though his own health was always delicate, and from time to time he had severe attacks of illness and of neuralgic pain. From morning to night he never had a moment to himself; the number of those who flocked to him for counsel was so great that there were frequently twenty or thirty persons waiting in his outer room for a chance to speak with him, while his meetings were always attended by as many as could crowd into the rooms of the ground floor of his little house—about four hundred people. People came to him from England, Holland, Sweden, and Switzerland; sick person would send for him, and he would pass hours or whole nights at their bedside. If he went into the neighboring country for rest, people would watch for him by the roadside and carry him off to the nearest barn, where a congregation would immediately assemble. He had an immense correspondence, and new editions of his hymns and other religious works were constantly demanded. To his quiet temperament this incessant labor and absence of solitude was most uncongenial, but he accepted it willing as his appointed task…. In all his dealings, it is recorded, he was most ‘circumspect, punctual, and practical,’ though ready to set aside his ordered plans at any call of obvious duty.” pp. 52,53

Income:

His income, in these years, was derived from the sale of his books and from the gifts of spiritual friends.” p. 53

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