Secret Prayer a Great Reality was a very popular pamphlet on praying in secret, and was frequently recommended to the attendees of student missionary conventions in the late 1800s. H. C. G. Moule also wrote a “thank you” to Wright for the pamphlet in the forward of his own book on praying in secret. Unfortunately I have been unable to discover much information on Pastor Wright.
Well suppose that I have retired for secret prayer—I have entered into my closet, and shut to my door. Am I prepared, without a moment's consideration, to pour out my heart before God? Sometimes it may be so,—special circumstances may be stirring in my soul the lively emotions of hope or fear, or love, or desire, and I feel unspeakable relief and rest in unbosoming myself to my Father in heaven as I would to a friend. But, frequently, it is far different. Frequently, if I kneel without premeditation —without distinctly realizing what I am about to do—just because it is my duty or my habit to pray—my prayers degenerate into a mere mechanical exercise or a wandering reverie; and I rise from my knees not refreshed— not strengthened,—but with the miserable sense of a burden upon my heart, that finds expression in some such sigh as this, 'Oh my God, forgive me the mockery of this prayer!' I know not how general such an experience as this may be; but that it is real, alas! I know too well. I need not say that this is making secret prayer the very reverse of a great reality. (Read the rest of this chapter from Secret Prayer)
How shall I pray so that my prayer may be a great reality? I propose to offer a few suggestions on the mode, the language, the length, the subjects, and the spirit of prayer.
1. The Mode—Two questions suggest themselves. In what posture shall I pray? and shall I pray aloud, or shall I pray to myself, i.e., inaudibly? The first question is only suggested that we may not forget that the posture of the body is nothing with God. Generally, the usual position of kneeling is doubtless the best; it has the largest amount of scriptural authority and example, viz.,— Solomon, 1 Kings viii. 54; Ezra, chap. ix. 5; Daniel, chap. vi. 10; Peter, Acts ix. 40; Paul, Acts xx. 36-xxi. 5; Eph. iii. 14; Jesus, Luke xxii. 41; (see also Psalm xcv. 6, etc.)—and it accords best with the spirit of the humble and acceptable suppliant; yet it is not necessary; circumstances of body may occur, and of mind too, when the reality of prayer may best be promoted by a standing, walking, sitting, or lying posture—let us remember in such cases that we are 'dead with Christ to the rudiments of the world.' Kneeling will not render acceptable a proud heart; neither will standing in any way taint the sacrifice of a broken and contrite spirit. (Read the rest of the second chapter of Henry Wright's book on Secret Prayer)
What suggestions can be offered on our conduct after we have risen from our knees, to help in making prayer a great reality.
1. The first obvious suggestion is contained in the words of the Saviour, 'Believe that ye receive them and ye shall have them;' that is (if I may use the expression), let your practice prove your faith, and rather suffer temporary inconvenience than by an act of yours give occasion to the unbelief of your heart to boast that God does not hear and answer prayer. Let me give an instance. I am in want of a schoolmaster, I feel the importance of having a pious man at the post, I make it a special subject for prayer. I make inquiries, but I cannot meet with the man I have asked for. I begin to grow impatient. I am greatly inconvenienced, perhaps. I hear of a man suitable in every respect but in his want of true piety. I still feel the importance as much as ever, but I cannot wait longer. I engage the man, and my faith in God as a prayer-hearing God is shaken, or, at all events, my sense of the real practical character of prayer, if not lost, is grievously weakened. (Read the final chapter of Secret Prayer by Henry Wright)