A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 17

Lectio Divina
Of Petitions

The soul should not be surprised at feeling itself unable to offer up to God such petitions as it had formerly made with freedom and facility; for now the Spirit maketh intercession for it according to the will of God, that “Spirit which helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us, with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Rom. viii. 26). We must co-operate with, and second the designs of God, which tend to divest us of all our own operations, that in the place thereof His own may be substituted. Let this then be done in you, and suffer not yourself to be attached to anything, however good it may appear; for it is no longer good if it in any measure turns you aside from that which God willeth of you: the Divine Will is preferable to all things else. Shake off then all attachments to the interests of self, and live on faith and resignation; here it is that genuine faith begins truly to operate.

Posts in this series:
Madame Guyon – A Spiritual Reading
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Preface
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 1
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 2
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 3
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 4
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 5
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 6
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 7
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 8
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 9
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 10
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 11
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 12
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 13
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 14
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 15
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 16
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 17

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A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 16

Lectio Divina
Of Reading and Vocal Prayer

If, while reading, you feel yourself recollected, lay aside the book and remain in stillness; at all times read but little, and cease to read when you are thus internally attracted.

The soul that is called to a state of inward silence should not encumber itself with long vocal prayers; whenever it does pray vocally, and finds a difficulty therein, and an attraction to silence, it should not use constraint by persevering, but yield to the internal drawings, unless the repeating such prayers be a matter of obedience. In any other case, it is much better not to be burdened with and tied down to the repetition of set forms, but wholly given up to the leadings of the Holy Spirit; and herein, indeed, is every species of devotion inclusively fulfilled in a most eminent degree.

Posts in this series:
Madame Guyon – A Spiritual Reading
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Preface
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 1
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 2
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 3
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 4
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 5
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 6
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 7
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 8
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 9
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 10
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 11
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 12
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 13
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 14
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 15

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A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 15

Lectio Divina
Of Confession and Self-examination

Self-examination should always precede Confession, and in the nature and manner of it should be conformable to the state of the soul: the business of those that are advanced to the degree of which we now treat, is to lay their whole souls open before God, who will not fail to enlighten them, and enable them to see the peculiar nature of their faults. This examination, however, should be peaceful and tranquil, and we should depend on God for the discovery and knowledge of our sins, rather than, on the diligence of our own scrutiny.

When we examine with constraint, and in the strength of our own endeavours, we are easily deceived and betrayed by self-love into error; “we believe the evil good, and the good evil” (Isa. v. 20); but when we lie in full exposure before the Sun of Righteousness, His Divine beams render the smallest atoms visible. It follows from hence that we must forsake self, and abandon our souls to God as well in examination as Confession.

When souls have attained to this species of prayer no fault escapes reprehension; on every commission they are instantly rebuked by an inward burning and tender confusion. Such is the scrutiny of Him who suffers no evil to be concealed; and under His purifying influence the one way is to turn affectionately to our Judge, and bear with meekness the pain and correction He inflicts. He becomes the incessant Examiner of the soul; it can now, indeed, no longer examine itself, and if it be faithful in its resignation, experience will convince the soul that it is a thousand times more effectually examined by His Divine Light than by the most active and vigorous self-inspection.

Those who tread these paths should be informed of a matter respecting their Confession in which they are apt to err. When they begin to give an account of their sins, instead of the regret and contrition they had been accustomed to feel, they find that love and tranquillity sweetly pervade and take possession of their souls: now those who are not properly instructed are desirous of withdrawing from this sensation, to form an act of contrition, because they have heard, and with truth, that it is requisite: but they are not aware that they lose thereby the genuine contrition, which is this Intuitive Love, infinitely surpassing any effect produced by self-exertion, and comprehending the other acts in itself as in one principal act, in much higher perfection than if they were distinctly perceived, and varied in their sensation. Be not then troubled about other things when God acts so excellently in you and for you.

To hate sin in this manner is to hate it as God does. The purest love is that which is of His immediate operation in the soul: why should it then be so eager for action? Let it remain in the state He assigns it, agreeable to the instructions of Solomon: “Put your confidence in God; remain in quiet, where he hath placed you” (Eccles. xi. 22).

The soul will also be amazed at finding a difficulty in calling faults to remembrance: this, however, should cause no uneasiness; first, because this forgetfulness of our faults is some proof of our purification from them; and in this degree of advancement it is best. Secondly, because when Confession is our duty God will not fail to make known to us our greatest faults, for then He Himself examines, and the soul will feel the end of examination more perfectly accomplished than it could possibly have been by the utmost exertion of its own endeavours.

These instructions, however, would be altogether unsuitable to the preceding degrees while the soul continues in its active state, wherein it is right and necessary it should in all things use the utmost industry in proportion to the degree of its advancement. It is those that have arrived at this more advanced state whom I would exhort to follow these instructions, and not to vary their one simple occupation even on approaching the Communion; they should remain in silence, and suffer God to act freely and without limitation. Who can better receive the Body and Blood of Christ than he in whom the Holy Spirit is indwelling?

Posts in this series:
Madame Guyon – A Spiritual Reading
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Preface
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 1
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 2
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 3
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 4
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 5
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 6
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 7
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 8
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 9
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 10
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 11
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 12
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 13
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 14

Posted in Books, Experience, Intimacy with God, Lectio Divina, Mysticism, Mystics, Prayer, Presence of God, Sacraments, Spiritual Practices | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 15

A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 14

Lectio Divina
Of Inward Silence

“The Lord is in His Holy Temple, let all the earth keep silence before him” (Hab. ii. 20). Inward silence is absolutely indispensable, because the Word is essential and eternal, and necessarily requires dispositions in the soul in some degree correspondent to His nature, as a capacity for the reception of Himself. Hearing is a sense formed to receive sounds, and is rather passive than active, admitting, but not communicating sensation; and if we would hear, we must lend the ear for that purpose: so Christ, the eternal Word, without whose Divine inspeaking the soul is dead, dark, and barren, when He would speak within us, requires the most silent attention to His all-quickening and efficacious voice.

Hence it is so frequently enjoined us in Sacred Writ, to hear and be attentive to the Voice of God: of the numerous exhortations to this effect I shall quote a few: “Hearken unto me, my people, and give ear unto me, O my nation!” (Isa. li. 4), and again, “Hear me, all ye whom I carry in my bosom, and bear within my bowels” (Isa. xlvi. 3), and farther by the Psalmist “Hearken, O daughter / and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy father’s house; so shall the King greatly desire thy beauty” (Psal. xlv. 10, 11).

We should forget ourselves, and all self-interest, and listen and be attentive to the voice of our God: and these two simple actions, or rather passive dispositions, attract His love to that beauty which He Himself communicates.

Outward silence is very requisite for the cultivation and improvement of inward; and indeed it is impossible we should become truly internal without the love and practice of outward silence and retirement. God saith, by the mouth of His prophet, “I will lead her into solitude, and there will I speak to her heart” (Hos. ii. 14 vulg.); and unquestionably the being internally occupied and engaged with God is wholly incompatible with being busied and employed in the numerous trifles that surround us (Luke xxxviii. 42).

When through imbecility or unfaithfulness we become dissipated, or as it were uncentred, it is of immediate importance to turn again gently and sweetly inward; and thus we may learn to preserve the spirit and unction of prayer throughout the day; for if prayer and recollection were wholly confined to any appointed half-hour or hour, we should reap but little fruit.

Posts in this series:
Madame Guyon – A Spiritual Reading
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Preface
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 1
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 2
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 3
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 4
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 5
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 6
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 7
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 8
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 9
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 10
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 11
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 12
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 13

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Life comes directly from God

As a folower of Jesus I know that I have been reborn when I accepted Jesus as my Saviour. But I have sometimes wondered just how that rebirth comes about. How does God actually create that new life in me?

While reading Fuchsia Pickett’s excellent series of books on the Holy Spirit I came across a description, in Walking in the Anointing of the Holy Spirit: Book II (Holy Spirit’s Work in You), of how the Holy Spirit ‘overshadowed’ Mary in order to conceive the infant Jesus within her womb. I then remembered how, after God had shaped Adam’s body from the earth, “he breathed (enspirited) life into him and he became a living soul.” (Genesis 2:7)

I also remembered how Paul drew on the Holy Spirit’s part in the resurrection of Jesus (Romans 8:11) to describe how our mortal bodies are “quickened” by that same Holy Spirit that dwells in us.

It becomes clear, then, that rebirth is not simply a legal transaction where we say to Jesus, “I accept your death for my sins and receive you as my Saviour”, and God then says, “Ok, now you can live!” I’m afraid that a lot of our Evangelical teaching comes across just like this.

No, God is far more directly and intimately involved in the process than this. The Holy Spirt, the very source and power of life, enters into our mortal body and changes it forever. He awakens or rekindles our sleeping or ‘dead’ spirit to once again connect with Father God, the Source. In fact, the Holy Spirit ‘overshadows’ us, as he did with mary, and creates a new life in us.

So, to believe that we can be a Christian, but not be aware of the presence and activity of the Holy Spirit within us, and hence to largely ignore him, is at best rampant foolishness, and must be highly grieving to the Spirit of God.

This re-creative act is surely the greatest miracle and the most amazing wonder and sign of God’s love and goodness to us.

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A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 13

Lectio Divina
Of Rest before God

The soul advanced thus far hath no need of any other preparation than its quietude: for now the Presence of God, which is the great effect, or rather continuation of Prayer, begins to be infused, and almost without intermission. The soul enjoys transcendent blessedness, and feels that “it no longer lives, but that Christ liveth in it”; and that the only way to find Him is introversion. No sooner do the bodily eyes close than the soul is wrapt up in Prayer: it is amazed at so great a blessing, and enjoys an internal converse, which external matters cannot interrupt.

The same may be said of this species of prayer that is said of wisdom, “all good things come together with her” (Wisdom vii. 11). For the virtues flow from this soul into exertion with so much sweetness and facility that they appear natural and spontaneous; and the living spring within breaks forth so freely and abundantly into all goodness that it becomes even insensible to evil. Let it then remain faithful in this state; and beware of choosing or seeking any other disposition whatsoever than this simple rest as a preparative either to Confession or Communion, to action or prayer, for its sole business is to expand itself for the full reception of the Divine infusions. I would not be understood to speak of the preparations necessary for the Sacraments, but of the most perfect dispositions in which they can be received.

Posts in this series:
Madame Guyon – A Spiritual Reading
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Preface
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 1
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 2
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 3
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 4
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 5
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 6
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 7
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 8
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 9
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 10
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 11
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 12

Posted in Lectio Divina, Mysticism, Mystics, Prayer, Presence of God, Sacraments, Spiritual Practices | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 13

A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 12

Lectio Divina
Of the Presence of God

The soul that is faithful in the exercise of love and adherence to God above described, is astonished to feel Him gradually taking possession of their whole being: it now enjoys a continual sense of that Presence, which is become as it were natural to it; and this, as well as prayer, is the result of habit. The soul feels an unusual serenity gradually being diffused throughout all its faculties; and silence now wholly constitutes its prayer; whilst God communicates an intuitive love, which is the beginning of ineffable blessedness. O that I were permitted to pursue this subject and describe some degrees of the endless progression of subsequent states! [2] But I now write only for beginners; and shall, therefore, proceed no farther, but wait our Lord’s time for publishing what may be applicable to every conceivable degree of “stature in Christ Jesus.”

We must, however, urge it as a matter of the highest import, to cease from self-action and self-exertion, that God Himself may act alone: He saith, by the mouth of His Prophet David, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Ps. xlvi. 10). But the creature is so infatuated with a love and attachment to its own workings, that it imagines nothing at all is done, if it doth not perceive and distinguish all its operations. It is ignorant that its inability minutely to observe the manner of its motion is occasioned by the swiftness of its progress; and that the operations of God, in extending and diffusing their influence, absorb those of the creature. The stars may be seen distinctly before the sun rises; but as his light advances, their rays are gradually absorbed by his and they become invisible, not from the want of light in themselves, but from the superior effulgence of the chief luminary.

The case is similar here; for there is a strong and universal light which absorbs all the little distinct lights of the soul; they grow faint and disappear under its powerful influence, and self-activity is now no longer distinguishable: yet those greatly err who accuse this prayer of idleness, a charge that can arise only from inexperience. If they would but make some efforts towards the attainment of this prayer, they would soon experience the contrary of what they suppose and find their accusation groundless.

This appearance of inaction is, indeed, not the consequence of sterility and want, but of fruitfulness and abundance which will be clearly perceived by the experienced soul, who will know and feel that the silence is full and unctuous, and the result of causes totally the reverse of apathy and barrenness. There are two kinds of people that keep silence; the one because they have nothing to say, the other because they have too much: it is so with the soul in this state; the silence is occasioned by the superabundance of matter, too great for utterance.

To be drowned, and to die of thirst, are deaths widely different; yet water may, in some sense, be said to cause both; abundance destroys in one case, and want in the other. So in this state the abundance and overflowings of grace still the activity of self; and, therefore, it is of the utmost importance to remain as silent as possible.

The infant hanging at the mother’s breast is a lively illustration of our subject: it begins to draw the milk by moving its little lips; but when the milk flows abundantly, it is content to swallow, and suspends its suction: by doing otherwise it would only hurt itself, spill the milk, and be obliged to quit the breast.

We must act in like manner in the beginning of Prayer, by exerting the lips of the affections; but as soon as the milk of Divine Grace flows freely, we have nothing to do but, in repose and stillness, sweetly to imbibe it; and when it ceases to flow, we must again stir up the affections as the infant moves its lips. Whoever acts otherwise cannot turn this grace to advantage, which is bestowed to allure and draw the soul into the repose of Love, and not into the multiplicity of Self.

But what becometh of this child, who gently and without motion drinketh in the milk? Who would believe that it can thus receive nourishment? Yet the more peacefully it feeds, the better it thrives. What, I say, becomes of this infant? It drops gently asleep on its mother’s bosom. So the soul that is tranquil and peaceful in prayer, sinketh frequently into a mystic slumber, wherein all its powers are at rest; till at length it is wholly fitted for that state, of which it enjoys these transient anticipations. In this process the soul is led naturally, without effort, art, or study.

The Interior is not a stronghold to be taken by storm and violence, but a kingdom of peace, which is to be gained only by love.

If any will thus pursue the little path I have pointed out, it will lead them to intuitive prayer. God demands nothing extraordinary nor difficult; on the contrary, He is best pleased by a simple and child-like conduct.

That which is most sublime and elevated in religion is the easiest attained: the most necessary Sacraments are the least difficult. It is thus also in natural things: if you would go to sea, embark on a river, and you will be conveyed to it insensibly and without exertion. Would you go to God, follow this sweet and simple path, and you will arrive at the desired object, with an ease and expedition that will amaze you.

O that you would but once make the trial! how soon would you find that all I have advanced falls short of the reality, and that your own experience will carry you infinitely beyond it! Is it fear that prevents you from instantly casting yourself into those arms of Love, which were widely extended on the Cross only to receive you? Whence can your fears arise? What risk do you run, in depending solely on your God, and abandoning yourself wholly unto Him? Ah! He will not deceive you, unless by bestowing an abundance beyond your highest hopes: but those who expect all from themselves will inevitably be deceived, and must suffer this rebuke of God by His prophet Isaiah, “Ye have wearied yourselves in the multiplicity of your ways, and have not said let us rest in peace” (Isa. lvii. 10 Vulgate).
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[2] An idea pursued in the work entitled “Spiritual Torrents,” and also in
“The Concise View.”

Posts in this series:
Madame Guyon – A Spiritual Reading
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Preface
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 1
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 2
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 3

Posted in Books, Experience, Lectio Divina, Mysticism, Mystics, Prayer, Presence of God, Sacraments, Spiritual Practices | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 12

A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 11

Lectio Divina
Of Conversion

“Be ye truly converted unto that God from whom ye have so deeply revolted” (Isa. xxxi. 6). To be truly converted is to avert wholly from the creature, and turn wholly unto God.

For the attainment of salvation it is absolutely necessary that we should forsake outward sin and turn unto righteousness: but this alone is not perfect conversion, which consists in a total change of the whole man from an outward to an inward life.

When the soul is once turned to God a wonderful facility is found in continuing steadfast in conversion; and the longer it remains thus converted, the nearer it approaches, and the more firmly it adheres to God; and the nearer it draws to Him, of necessity it is the farther removed from the creature, which is so contrary to Him: so that it is so effectually established and rooted in its conversion that it becomes habitual, and, as it were, natural.

Now we must not suppose that this is effected by a violent exertion of its own powers; for it is not capable of, nor should it attempt any other co-operation with Divine Grace, than that of endeavouring to withdraw itself from external objects and to turn inwards: after which it has nothing farther to do than to continue steadfast in adherence to God.

God has an attractive virtue which draws the soul more and more powerfully to Himself, the nearer it approaches towards Him, and, in attracting, He purifies and refines it; just as with a gross vapour exhaled by the sun, which, as it gradually ascends, is rarified and rendered pure, the vapour, indeed, contributes to its exhalation only by its passiveness; but the soul co-operates with the attractions of God, by a free and affectionate correspondence. This kind of introversion is both easy and efficacious, advancing the soul naturally and without constraint, because God Himself is its centre.

Every centre has a powerfully attractive virtue; and the more pure and exalted it is, the stronger and more irresistible are its attractions. But besides the potent magnetism of the centre itself, there is, in every creature, a correspondent tendency to re-union with its peculiar centre which is vigorous and active in proportion to the spirituality and perfection of the subject.

As soon as anything is turned towards its centre its own gravitation instigates and accelerates it thereto, unless it be withheld by some invincible obstacle: a stone held in the hand is no sooner disengaged than by its own weight it falls to the earth as to its centre; so also water and fire, when unobstructed, tend and flow incessantly to their principle or centre. Now, when the soul, by its efforts to abandon outward objects, and gather itself inwards, is brought into the influence of this central tendency, without any other exertion, it falls gradually by the weight of Divine Love into its proper centre; and the more passive and tranquil it remains, and the freer from self-motion and self-exertion, the more rapidly it advances, because the energy of the central attractive virtue is unobstructed and has full liberty for action.

All our care and attention should, therefore, be to acquire inward recollection: nor let us be discouraged by the pains and difficulties we encounter in this exercise, which will soon be recompensed, on the part of our God, by such abundant supplies of grace as will render the exercise perfectly easy, provided we be faithful in meekly withdrawing our hearts from outward distractions and occupations, and returning to our centre with affections full of tenderness and serenity. When at any time the passions are turbulent, a gentle retreat inwards unto a Present God, easily deadens
and pacifies them; and any other way of contending with them rather irritates than appeases them.

Posts in this series:
Madame Guyon – A Spiritual Reading
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Preface
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 1
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 2
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 3

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A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 10

Lectio Divina
Of Mortification

I will even affirm, that, in any other way, it is next to an impossibility ever to acquire a perfect mortification of the senses and passions.

The reason is obvious; the soul gives vigour and energy to the senses, and the senses raise and stimulate the passions: a dead body has neither sensations nor passions, because its connection with the soul is dissolved.

All endeavours merely to rectify the exterior, impel the soul yet farther outward into that about which it is so warmly and zealously engaged. It is in these matters that its powers are diffused and scattered abroad: for its application being immediately directed to austerities, and other externals, it thus invigorates those very senses it is aiming to subdue. For the senses have no other spring from whence to derive their vigour, than the application of the soul to themselves; the degree of their life and activity is proportioned to the degree of attention which the soul bestows upon them; and this life of the senses stirs up and provokes the passions, instead of suppressing or subduing them: austerities may, indeed, enfeeble the body, but, for the reasons just mentioned, can never take off the keenness of the senses, or lessen their activity.

The only method to effect this is inward recollection; by which the soul is turned wholly and altogether inward, to possess a Present God. If the soul directs all its vigour and energy towards this centre of its being, the simple act separates and withdraws it from the senses; the exercising all its powers internally leaves them faint and impotent; and the nearer it draws to God the farther is it separated from the senses, and the less are the passions influenced by them.

Hence it is, that those, in whom the attractions of grace are very powerful, find the outward man altogether weak and feeble, and even liable to faintings. I do not mean by this to discourage mortification; for it should ever accompany prayer, according to the strength and state of the person, or as obedience will allow. But I say that mortification should not be our principal exercise; nor should we prescribe ourselves such and such austerities, but follow simply and merely the internal attractions of grace; and being possessed and occupied with the Divine Presence (without thinking particularly on mortification) God will enable us to perform every species of it; and most assuredly He will give no relaxation to those who abide faithful in their abandonment to Him, until He has mortified in them everything that remains to be mortified.

We have only then to continue steadfast in the utmost attention to God, and all things will be rightly performed. All are not capable of outward austerities, but all are capable of this. In the mortification of the eye and ear, which continually supply the busy imagination with new objects, there is little danger of falling into excess: but God will teach us this also, and we have only to follow where His Spirit guides.

The soul has a double advantage by proceeding thus, for, in withdrawing from outward objects, it draws the nearer to God; and in approaching Him, besides the secret sustaining and preserving power and virtue received, it is the farther removed from sin, the nearer the approach is made; so that conversion becomes habitual.

Posts in this series:
Madame Guyon – A Spiritual Reading
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Preface
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 1
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 2
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 3

Posted in Books, Lectio Divina, Mysticism, Mystics, Prayer, Presence of God, Salvation, Spiritual Practices | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 10

A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 9

Lectio Divina
Of Virtue

It is thus we acquire virtue, with facility and certainty; for, as God is the fountain and principle of all virtue, we possess all in the possession of Himself; and in proportion as we approach towards this possession, in like proportion do we rise into the most eminent virtues. For all virtue is but as a mask, an outside appearance changeable as our garments, if it doth not spring up, and issue from within; and then, indeed, it is genuine, essential, and permanent: “The beauty of the King’s daughter proceeds from within” saith David (Psa. xlv. 14). These souls, above all others, practise virtue in the most eminent degree, though they advert not to virtue in particular; God, to whom they are united, carries them to the most extensive practice of it; He is exceedingly jealous over them, and prohibits them the
taste of any pleasure but in Himself.

What a hungering for sufferings have those souls, who thus glow with Divine Love! how prone to precipitate into excessive austerities, were they permitted to pursue their own inclinations! They think of nought save how they may please their Beloved: as their self-love abates, they neglect and forget themselves; and as their love to God increases, so do self-detestation and disregard to the creature.

O was this easy method acquired, a method so suited to all, to the dull and ignorant as well as to the acute and learned, how easily would the whole Church of God be reformed! Love only is required: “Love;” saith S. Augustine, “and then do what you please.” For when we truly love, we cannot have so much as a will to anything that might offend the Object of our affections.

Posts in this series:
Madame Guyon – A Spiritual Reading
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Preface
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 1
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 2
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 3

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