This week, my friend tells me I must read Francois Fenelon’s collection of letters during the time he was spiritual advisor to Louis the XIV. This collection, entitled simply Let Go, dates back to 1689.
“You know my love language is Christian books,” I tell her. I hold the book in my hand and remember when another friend, Faith, introduced me to E. Stanley Jones or when still another friend, Patrice, gave me Thomas’ Saving Life of Christ.
I was never the same.
These books don’t make the best seller lists, and hardly anyone tweets about them. I feel cheated that it’s taken me this long to find them. How could I have been alive all this time and have never even heard of Fenelon? And then I learn this: Fenelon advised readers to study Madame Guyon’s reluctantly published book, Experiencing the Depths of Christ. I order this book and discover that at one time, this little collection of words was publicly banned for the kind of influence it was having in French society.
Any Christian writing that powerful and that upsetting just might have to be read.
I feel so loved by people when they direct obscure Christian books my way. I cannot wait to pour a cup of coffee, sit in the sun in my rocking chair, and read what Fenelon and Guyon might teach me. I’ll pass on what I learn!
Do you have a favorite but not well-known Christian book?
Guyon and Fenelon are great. You might also try “The Life of God in the Soul of Man.” Henry Scougal.
You are talking my love language when speaking of gems of older Christian books! My grandparents were missionaries in China, where my father was born, and I have their hefty 2-volume set of the biography of J. Hudson Taylor: Hudson Taylor in Early Years: The Growth of a Soul (c. 1911) and Hudson Taylor and the China Inland Mission: The Growth of a Work of God (c. 1918), both written by his son, Howard, and his wife. What great bedtime reading! I know there are condensed versions based on these, but I loved reading the original books.
I recommend a more recent title, 50 People Every Christian Should Know: Learning from Spiritual Giants of the Faith by Warren W. Wiersbe (BakerBooks, c.2009), which includes a comprehensive list of “Further Reading” at the back of the book.
Along those same lines, His Victorious Indwelling: Daily Devotions for a Deeper Life (c. 1998) and Magnificent Prayer: 366 Devotions to Deepen Your Prayer Experience (c. 2001), both written/compiled by Nick Harrison and published by Zondervan, draw from the rich writings of the past. The prayer book also gives a list for further reading; they both include a helpful author index.
More recently I ordered and read Experiencing God Through Prayer by Madame Guyon. I'll have to check into the one you mentioned by her.
I better quit! After all, I just realized you asked for one title, not a host of titles!
Thanks, Heather, for your always inspiring posts!
I also like Madame Guyon. One of my favorites is one of my first books, which I'm certain is unavailable now . Written by Pastor Henry Miller in 1920 “Take a second look at yourself” . A book of self-examination, faithful outlooks on life, then winding down at the finish on facing your older years – a chapter that I have to read yet.
I bought the book at a yard sale in 1975 for .25 cents, when I was just starting to read psychology and philosophy when I was 19 years old.
Now you know how old I am. I have given this book to numerous people over the years and it still blesses me as I open it up every few years. One quote from the book that I still use and always consider myself is this; “Some of your griefs you've cured – the worst you have survived – but oh what heartache you will endure, from the troubles that never arrived.” Peace..
I love that quote. I need to find Henry Miller's book!!
I'm putting these on my summer reading list!!!
I will! Can't wait!
Thomas Traherne, “Centuries of Meditations”
William Law, “Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life”
Jonathan Edwards, “Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God”
Charles Spurgeon, “Lectures to my Students on the Art of Preaching”
Michel Quoist, “Prayers of Life”
My favorite is the little book by Brother Lawrence, Practice of the Presence of God. I remember him esp. when I am doing day to day, menial tasks; he found God doing dishes for his monastery. Thanks for books to add to my list!
You are not the first person who has recommended Brother Lawrence to me!
Thank you for this list, John! My summer reading list is now complete! I love Jonathan Edwards!!!