The Excellency of Inward and Spiritual Prayer
Newly edited and with a special introduction by Roland Trujillo
This book is a reproduction of the 1846 Third American Edition of A Guide to True Peace in the public domain. The original preface has been faithfully reproduced. Abbreviations for the Bible books and Roman numerals to designate Bible chapters have been updated to modern form for ease of reading. Few changes in text have been made other than occasional use of modern words or phrasing to make the Old English more readable.
The Spirit of God Dwells in the Heart of Man On Faith
All Are Capable of Attaining to Inward and Spiritual Prayer
On Attaining to True Prayer
On Spiritual Dryness
On Temptations and Tribulations
On Self Denial
On Self Annihilation
Man Acts More Nobly Under the Divine Influence, Than He Can Possibly Do By Following His Own Will
On the Possession of Peace and Rest Before God
On Perfection, or the Union of the Soul with God
by Roland Trujillo
"In this hour of all-but-universal darkness one cheering gleam appears: . . . .there are to be found increasing numbers of persons whose religious lives are marked by a growing hunger after God Himself. They are eager for spiritual realities and will not be put off with words, nor will they be content with correct `interpretations' of truth. They are athirst for God, and they will not be satisfied till they have drunk deep at the Fountain of Living Water."
A. W. Tozer
There is a way of living and moving and having our being that is happy and care free, and through which we can find the love to solve our problems and prevent new ones.
We need love to deal kindly and authentically with our family and acquaintances. We need love to dispassionately bear persecution and trial; and we need love to be patient with our own errors.
We need understanding to respond wisely to others and to gain insight into the nature of our own mental and emotional issues.
Down through history, mystics have talked of a marvelous state of being where such problem solving love and understanding are to be found. We would like to find this state of being too.
Wise people have sought to leave us instruction on how to live properly. For example, our parents, teachers, and ministers have offered us advice.
As good intentioned as their instruction and advice may be, their advice is second hand for us. It is also hard to accept, especially when we are young, because we resist being dictated to. The natural inclination is toward freedom, and we often prefer living in error to having someone tell us what to do or how to live our lives.
What we really need is tutoring in how to see for ourselves what is wise. Then we may more readily choose to live wisely based on what we have discovered for ourselves.
That way, we may live wisely from our own insights. We are free to live our own life founded on our own discoveries—neither conforming to the pressure of authority nor rejecting good advice because of the meanness or hypocrisy of the advice giver.
We may thereby find acceptable the wise action, since it is based on our own realization and free will choice, not because of the pressure of external dictates or the promises of external seduction.
We also need self control and self confidence; and we sense that these must come from within and cannot be artificially and externally imparted to us.
Mystics down through the ages have suggested that wisdom and love, as well as patience and poise, are to be found within. At some unplumbed level of our being, we sense that this is true. But how can we find and unlock the secret to this inner love and wisdom?
Many people search for the secret in study, formalistic prayer, guided meditations, song, positive affirmations, or devotions. Though we may draw some comfort from one of these practices or in reassuring words, especially in times of crisis--we sense that they are dry and dead as far as a real live connection is concerned.
Somehow we know in our heart that it is a connection with the Father, from Whom all blessings flow, that would supply the love and understanding we need.
We also sense that peace of mind based on words and music is built on the shifting sands of emotions.
Some people have tried artificial techniques—such as hallucinogenic drugs, rituals or esoteric practices—but we see how these can lead to withdrawal, confusion, madness or cult like involvement.
The artificial manipulation of mind or body is unnatural and contrived. Surely if living wisely and joyously is the natural state, then we should not have to contort our bodies or take drugs to attain it.
Somehow we know in our hearts that we were not created to be confused, withdrawn, or reliant on external drugs or techniques.
We were meant to be something like joyous children are—carefree, spontaneous, happy go lucky and creative. When we observe adults who are this way, we marvel; and we always want to ask them what the secret is to their joy and spontaneity!
When someone is chronically unhappy, externally driven, tense, worrying about the past, or planning for the future instead of living in the now present, we sense something is wrong with them.
We sense that they have missed the mark and are doing something in error. We sense that they have been made into a victim and cannot find their way back to the natural joyous state of being they once knew. They need to be shown the way back, but it must be by someone who has found it.
Few have written as beautifully and convincingly about the inner way to the blessed life as Madame Jeanne Guyon, Francois Fenelon and Michael Molinos. It is from their timeless writings that this book is gleaned.
These towering figures in church history consulted with kings and yet drew the not always favorable attention of church leaders of the time.
In fact, they were all persecuted for their honesty and for daring to suggest that the answer to life's problems is not found in the words of external authorities, but from the wordless Teacher within.
They were loved by the common people. And although all three were Catholic, their writings have become favorites of Protestant and Evangelical Christians to this very day. Madame Guyon, for example, has been beloved and recommended by such notables as Charles Wesley, Elbert Hubbard, Charles Spurgeon, and Watchman Nee.
A. W. Tozer read and appreciated all three of our mystics, and included some of Madame Guyon's poems in his little known The Christian Book of Mystical Verse.
These three amazing souls touched each other's lives too. Madame Guyon (1648 to 1717), who lived in France, appreciated the writing of Michael Molinos (1628-1696), who was her contemporary in Italy and who wrote the mystical classic The Spiritual Guide.
Madame Guyon and Francois Fenelon (1651-1715) became lifelong friends, and their letters to each other are among the world's spiritual classics.
She, a humble common person, and he, an Archbishop, were unlikely people to become friends, except for one thing: they were kindred spirits who shared a deep love for God.
Each new generation of spiritual seekers has delighted and found inspiration and solace in these three noble souls. How fortunate we are that many of their books, manuscripts and letters have survived over three centuries and can be read today.
These three mystics, who write about what they actually experienced for themselves, suggest that the secret to the good life is in finding our Creator Who communicates with us in our innermost being. It is within that we may bask in His love, share in His life, and benefit from His wisdom imparted to us through our soul.
Finding God within, we are humbled and repented in His patience and understanding. Having been forgiven ourselves, we find it easier to then extend forgiveness to others.
If what these mystical writers say is true—that God is in our innermost being and that by learning to be still we may find His Presence there--then their words might awaken us to the inner testimony.
Reading their description of what they have found may spark a recognition in us, awaken a yearning in our hearts, and an inner testimony that silently says "it is so."
Our heart would then leap with joy as our soul stirs to life with a new hope that we cannot give ourselves but which begins as we are touched within in the present moment by the very living Presence which inspired the words we read.
Having become aware of the inner Presence, we will want to fast from mental wanderings, wean ourselves from excessive external involvement, and learn to sit still and commune with our spiritual Parent.
Having found the ground of our being, been awakened to its promptings, and having found a way to be still and receptive to inner love and wisdom, we will no longer be beholden to external teachers.
We can still appreciate what teachers and leaders have to say without becoming dependent on them.
Having found the Source of all wisdom and love within, upon which to depend--who would need the hand of man anymore?
These three mystical writers share with us how to find inner communion with God, and they provide practical guidance about dealing with distractions, our overactive imagination, self pity, worry and the cares of the world.
They are truly positive and encouraging, because they intend their words to awaken us to what we know in our hearts.
Each of them, though a mystic by almost universal acclamation, tells us that any of us can attain to the inward prayer, peace, and fellowship with God just as they did, regardless of our station in life or lack of education.
Their words are as inspiring and enabling as if they had just been freshly written today.
The 1846 Edition says of The Guide to True Peace that it is "compiled chiefly from the writings of Fenelon, Archbishop of Cambray, Lady Guyon, and Michael Molinos," principally from the A Short and Easy Method of Prayer by Madame Jeanne Guyon, the Maxims of the Saints of Francois Fenelon, and the Spiritual Guide of Michael Molinos.
My initial acquaintance with any of these three noble souls was when I first heard of Madame Jeanne Guyon some 30 years ago. It happened this way. One evening, as I was listening to Chaplain Ray's daily 15 minute radio program, he announced one of his radio promotions.
Chaplain Ray had a heart for those who are incarcerated, and for many years he devoted himself to a successful prison ministry and a radio outreach to prisoners.
He announced that night that he was giving away Madame Guyon's book Experiencing God Through Prayer (also known as Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ in English and A Short and Easy Method of Prayer in French). He offered to send the book for a small donation to anyone who wrote in requesting a copy.
Chaplain Ray talked of how he appreciated her book, and I'm sure he had a deep and heartfelt affection for her. She too had been in prison (where she did much of her writing), persecuted for not having found favor with the religious powers of that time.
Chaplain Ray also knew that this noble lady, herself having been a convict, could touch the hearts of those searching souls who happen to be behind bars—many of whom "hunger and thirst for righteousness" and who are looking for the Father they have never known.
He knew they would find in Madame Guyon a kindred spirit.
I asked for and received her little book from Chaplain Ray, for which I am very grateful. It has been on my shelf and a faithful companion ever since. And through her, I also discovered Francois Fenelon and Michael Molinos.
I consider it a great honor and privilege to bring to you this 1846 Edition of A Guide to True Peace.
May it reawaken you to what you have always known in your heart.
(from the 1846 Edition compiled by William Backhouse and James Janson)
It is said by our blessed Redeemer that "they who worship the Father, must worship Him in spirit and in truth," (John 4:24). Now the object of this work is to explain, in a simple and familiar manner, how this only true worship can be acceptably performed, and inward spiritual prayer rightly attained. Few authors have written with greater clarity thereon, than those from whose works this little volume has been chiefly compiled; they, therefore, have been preferred: at the same time, it has been thought necessary to simplify, and render more intelligible, some of their terms, in order that they may be more generally understood.
While some, into whose hands this little treatise may fall, may receive it as a Messenger of glad Tidings, there will doubtless, be others, who may not feel disposed, to place much dependence on the simple manner here printed out, of drawing near to their Creator; let such, however, not judge according to the appearance; but, laying aside all reasoning thereon, in humility and simplicity make trial of it, and feel for themselves what is herein stated will not prove to be something more than an empty dream of the imagination, or a cunningly devised fable. And, if they do this in sincerity of heart, they will soon have to acknowledge, to their great consolation, that there are indeed substantial, efficacious, and incontrovertible Truths; and that this is the true way to become purified from our many defilements, to be instructed in heavenly mysteries, to taste of the wine of the Kingdom, and to partake of that bread which nourishes up unto everlasting life.
It is certain from Scripture, that the Spirit of God dwells within us, that a "manifestation of this Spirit is given to each of us for the common good," (1 Corinthians 12:7) and that this is "the true Light, which comes into the world and enlightens every person." (John 1:9).
This is the grace of God, which brings salvation, and which has appeared unto all men; teaching us, that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world (Titus 2: 12).
But we make too little account of this internal Teacher, which is the soul of our soul, and by which only we are able to form good thoughts and desires.
God ceases not to reprove us for evil, and to influence us to that which is good; but the noises of the world without, and of our own passions within, deafen us, and hinder us from hearing him.
We must retire from all outward objects, and silence all the desires and wandering imaginations of the mind; that in this profound silence of the whole soul, we may hearken to the ineffable voice of the Divine Teacher.
We must listen with an attentive ear; for it is a still, small voice. It is not indeed a voice uttered in words as when a man speaks to his friend; but it is a perception infused by the secret operations and influences of the Divine Spirit, insinuating to us obedience, patience, meekness, humility, and all the other Christian virtues, in a language perfectly intelligible to the attentive soul.
But how seldom is it that the soul keeps itself silent enough for God to speak! The murmurs of our vain desires, and our self-love, disturb all of the teachings of the Divine Spirit. Ought we then to be surprised, if so many persons, apparently devout, but too full of their own wisdom, and confidence in their own virtues, are not able to hear it; and that they look upon this internal word as the chimers of fanatics? Alas! What is it they aim at with their vain reasoning? The external word, even of the gospel, would be but an empty sound without this living and fruitful Word in the interior, to interpret and open it to the understanding.
Christ says, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock —if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in unto him, and sup with him and he with me," Revelation 3:20). His knocks are the monitions of his Spirit; which touch us, and operate in us. And to attend to these monitions and follow them, is to open unto him.
He speaks in impenitent sinners; but these, engrossed in the eager pursuit of worldly pleasures, and the gratification of their evil passions, are not able to hear him. His word with them passes for a fable.
But woe to those who receive their consolation in this life. The time will come when their vain joys shall be confounded.
He speaks in sinners who are in the way of conversion: these feel the remorse of their conscience, and this remorse is the voice of the Spirit, which upbraids them inwardly with their vices. When they are truly touched, they have no difficulty to comprehend the secret voice, for it is this that so pierces them to the quick. It is that two-edged sword within them, of which Paul speaks, which goes even to the dividing of soul from itself: "The word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword; piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow; and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart," (Hebrews 4:12).
He speaks in persons enlightened, learned, and whose life, outwardly regular, seems adorned with many virtues; but often these persons, full of themselves, and of their knowledge, give too much ear to themselves to listen to his teachings. God who seeks only to communicate himself, finds no place (so to speak) where to introduce himself into these souls that are so full of themselves, and so over-fed with their own wisdom and virtues.
He hides his secrets from the wise and prudent, and reveals them to the low and simple; Jesus said, "I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth!
Because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and have revealed them unto babes," (Matthew 1:25). It is with the humble and childlike that He delights to dwell, and to disclose to them his ineffable secrets.
It is these who are more peculiarly qualified for receiving in a greater measure the gift of faith; for, being willing that the pride of Reason should be laid in the dust, they obstruct not the entrance of this gift of their vain arguments; but believe with simplicity and confidence.
There are two sorts or degrees of faith: the first is that by which the mind gives its assent to the truth of a thing on the testimony of another; the second is of a more exalted nature, being of Divine origin, and is a gift of the Holy Spirit. By the first, we believe in the existence of God, and in the truths which He has revealed to us in the Holy Scriptures.
It is an essential principle in the beginning of the spiritual path; for "he that cometh to God, must believe that he is God, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him," (Hebrews 6:6). And if we put our whole trust in Him, and endeavor in all things to obey Him, we shall be in a state of preparation for the reception of that true and living faith which is "the gift of God," (Ephesians 2: 8).
It is only by this faith that we shall be enabled to overcome all our spiritual enemies, and clearly to understand those mysteries which are incomprehensible to human reason; for faith, being born of God, cannot err; reason, therefore, must follow and submit to faith, not go before and control it.
It is by faith that, "being justified, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ," (Romans 5:1). And when this precious gift has been granted to us, it produces in us hope, love, confidence, joy and holiness of heart.
We shall then be enabled to feel an entire dependence on the goodness, power, justice, and mercy of God, and a confidence in his promises; as well as more fully to experience and comprehend the operations of his spirit on the mind.
Faith is an essential requisite for the proper performance of all our duties to God: indeed, without it we cannot possibly please Him (Hebrews 11:6), neither should we ever be induced to seek Him, or believe in the influence of His Holy Spirit upon our souls.
It is by faith that we are supported in our path to peace, and are enabled to persevere through the difficulties and besetments, which we may have to encounter on our way: it is through this holy principle that we suffer the pains of dryness, and want of consolation, without fainting; being thereby strengthened to "endure, because we see Him who is invisible," (Hebrews 11:27). And it is only by faith that we can attain to the practice of true, inward, and spiritual prayer.