This past week our Tuesday morning reading group finished Henry Scougal’s book, The Life of God in the Soul of Man. As we read through the last section I was amazed at the words of a brother in Christ who lived so long ago. In that last section he spoke of how we can work toward humility and in one section he spoke of prayer. Listen to his words and then go back and evaluate your life to see if you’ve experienced the three different kinds of prayer.
“I shall only tell you, that as there is one sort of prayer wherein we make us of the voice which is necessary in public, and may sometimes have its own advantage in private, and another wherein, though we utter no sound, yet we conceive the expressions and form the words, as it were, in our minds; so there is a third and more sublime kind of prayer, wherein the soul takes a higher flight, and having collected all its forces by long and serious meditation, it darteth itself, if I may so speak, toward God in sighs and groans, and thoughts too big for expression. As when, after a deep contemplation of the Divine perfections appearing in all his works of wonder, it addresseth itself unto him in the profoundest adoration of his majesty and glory: or when, after sad reflections on its vileness and miscarriages, it prostrates itself before him with the greatest confusion and sorrow, not daring to lift up its eyes, or utter one word in his presence: or when, having well considered the beauty of holiness, and the unspeakable felicity of those that are truly good, it panteth after God, and sendeth up such vigorous and ardent desires as no words can sufficiently express, continuing and repeating each of these acts as long as it finds itself upheld by the force and impulse of the previous meditation.”
Most of us have experienced the first two types of prayer—we pray in public and we know what it is to pray in private, but have we ever meditated upon God in such a way that we say nothing, but through the Spirit we communicate with the Father and draw close to Him? Scougal went on to say that this kind of prayer may be “the great secret of devotion, and one of the most powerful instruments of the divine life.” I’ve experienced what Scougal tries to describe a few times in my life and those times were the sweetest times of my spiritual journey. It’s hard to explain, but as those who have experienced it can attest—it is indeed life changing.