ABOUT MADAME GUYON - Rev. Sandra Farley

About Madame Guyon

By: Rev. Sandra Farley

Tuesday Morning Bible Study

April 23, 2024


I thought I would talk today about a little book that had a profound influence on me a long time ago and gave me peace in the midst of various storms in my life.  It was a little book I found at a surprising place:  the bookstore at Baylor University in Waco.  My husband went to Baylor and we were there to either visit or attend a football game.  I had been in a Bible Study in which this book was mentioned after I had received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, so I picked it up thinking I would see what it was about.  This would have been about 40 years ago. 

It is good to glean from Christians from long ago.  I know we have been blessed here in this Bible study by some of the authors who wrote of the Lord many centuries ago.  Jesus said in Mathew 13:52 “Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the Kingdom of Heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.”  This was a book written around 1685 or even before by a French lady who was not in an official in the Catholic church or even a Protestant.  She was a loyal Catholic to the end even though they persecuted her and put her in the Bastille several times for having published this book.  Her book was changing lives in many small towns and cities in France at the time.   It is my opinion that her method of prayer left the clergy too much out of the spiritual life of the believers.  Of course this caused trouble.  They even made her recant what she wrote.  She had a cousin, an Archbishop named Fenelon, who agreed with her views and method of prayer, but he seems to have navigated the political waters of religion and favor with the monarchy of Louis XIV very well.  At least he was not imprisoned, but found favor somehow with his Catholic officials even though he was part of the clergy. 

I found, throughout her writings, that she was looking after the common man in a time when there was a great divide between rich and poor, between educated and those who could not read, and between clergy and parishioner or congregation member.  The Lord wants all to come to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ and not one is left out.   She felt all were called the “the depth of Christ.” 

She starts out by inviting those who are poor, wretched, and afflicted to come to the Lord by this method.  She says DO NOT come if you will not give your heart to the Lord.  We use these terms today to invite all to come to the Lord in humility.  You must have the Lord in your heart to use this method of prayer first.  I liked that she spoke of staying the Presence of God this way.  She calls it perfection, which is not a term we would use today.  She uses the term piety, which is not what we would call it today.  I myself would just call it living out of the Life of Christ by the Holy Spirit within each person’s spirit. 

I liked that she mentioned that this type of prayer does not interfere with your everyday life and you can work or do what you need to each day.  In fact, it will help you in everyday activities.  Also, this is not a type of prayer that comes from your mind, as in memorized prayers.  I liked that she mentioned that the mind is very limited!  There is nothing to match the mind of God, or of Christ.  She mentioned that selfish desires can interfere with pursuing this kind of prayer, but even that will be taken care of if you persist in prayer.  Just know that God wants a deeper relationship with you more than you want it. 

This method of prayer is quite simple and will not be news to most of you.  She recommends finding a passage of scripture that is simple and practical, then read a small portion of it, not the whole passage, since you are there to absorb it and digest it.  Let this soak into your spirit until you feel you have absorbed all the Lord has for you in it.  You can even make it a prayer, and we do this all the time here at this church.  Then go on to the next portion of scripture.  You are not here to go through as much scripture as you can, just absorb it.  You can go through the passage faster later on for other purposes of study and to compare it with other scriptures elsewhere in the Bible.  I liked the way she compared it to a bee who flits from one flower to another quickly but instead plunges deep within a flower to extract ALL he can get out of it. 

The next method of prayer did not seem much different, but involved stilling the mind from wandering.  Some may have trouble with this.  She called this “beholding the Lord.”  She recommends reading a small portion of the Word and then dwelling on the Presence of the Lord that it ushers in.  She recommends a quiet time and place to do this.  She says to do it by faith.  She encourages the reader to hold your disciplined mind before the Lord and let His Presence feed your spirit, is the best way I would describe it nowadays.  If your mind wanders, just bring it back to the Lord.  Over and over, she mentions that the Lord desires to reveal Himself to each one of us.

It is His great desire to fellowship with us more than even it is ours to fellowship with Him.  God wants to bring revelation to us more than we want it.  Just let your mind get used to being brought back into alignment with that Christ that dwells within you and revelation will come.  It will become easier because you will learn to delight in the Lord’s presence. 

I enjoyed reading her instructions for those who cannot read.  These instructions would have to be read to them and someone who knew what she was talking about would need to help.  Evidently, the Lord’s prayer was so well known that it could be used as the verses to rest upon, one phrase at a time.  That starts with “Father” and says to contemplate that phrase until its full meaning comes to you and you feel the Lord’s presence.  Once it goes, move on to the next phrase.   

She also recommends coming to the Lord as your Shepherd who loves and feeds His sheep and watches over them.  She discounts the need for memorized or repetitious prayers.  She also recommends for those who cannot read to come to the Lord as the Great Physician who wants to heal you of all sickness.  Something I know is valuable is what was said about coming without anxiety and restlessness, but I would add fear, as that is a faith killer.  This special time with the Lord will increase and increase.  You will come to enjoy it more and more. 

Madame Guyon mentions a second level of prayer that comes after the first level.  She mentions the ebb and flow of what I will call the Spirit of God.  Keep your mind stayed on the Lord, but when the Presence of the Lord fades, gently, and only gently, utter words of love or call on His name.  She emphasized doing this gently just like the seeking of the Lord in the first phase of prayer. 

She likens this phase to fanning the flames of a fire gently so that the fire will come back to life, but not so much that the flame is put out. 

One important thing she brought out was to question yourself on why you are seeking the Lord.  She asked are your seeking Him because of the pleasure it gives you?  Because of how it makes you feel?  Because you are seeking something?  Bring a heart so full of love that it desires only to please Him.  That is what He wants.  He knows your needs and in that deep place of fellowship with Him, he may decide to pour out the answer you are looking for.  The next she mentions is a little hard for me to digest and accept and that was that your mind might wander in this state, or that He withdraws Himself, or that you have a difficult time in prayer. 

She promises that if you come to the Lord this way, you will have peace no matter what circumstance you are in.  The times of spiritual darkness will be the same as times of light.   I  have heard that you should not doubt in darkness what you have heard in the light.  You will continue your life in the Lord by faith.  She mentions faith often in her discourse on prayer.  You stay steady in the Lord because you love Him and not for His gifts or Presence. 

I read ahead in the chapter of advice to Christian workers.  She recommends leading the lost to Christ and helping them find this inward kind of prayer seeking the Lord’s Presence rather than putting on them standards of behavior or outward shows of religion.  In today’s terms, let them know they are part of a new kingdom, the Kingdom of God and not of this world.  The standards of behavior should flow out of the life of Christ within a new convert, not superficially put upon them.  Of course, you may have to get practical sometimes.  We should all live out of the life of Christ within us.  Then our way would be smoother and have better outcomes. 

There were more chapters in this book of wonder interest but I just wanted to talk a little about this book that had such a profound effect on me and gave me peace in the midst of life’s trials. 

You can throw out what you feel is not Biblical and take what are golden nuggets.  It amazes me that she caused such a stir in her country of late 17th century France.  She was doing her best to bring the Catholic church to a better place and never once complained about it.  She was born after King Louis XIV’s decree that stopped the spread of the teaching of the Huguenots and drove them out of the country, so she was not involved in that, but nevertheless was persecuted as if she were teaching error.  It seems as if there have always been groups that were close to the Lord and maybe had pulled away from their either Protestant or Catholic roots.  We learned about some of these in Sunday School, Training Union, or else even Vacation Bible School, which was almost like school.  Then I read about them from time to time in history books or in Christian books.  Like we say around here,  God has his remnant. 

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