Screwtape on Prayer
[CAUTION: Read with care and understanding. This is the voice of a devil. His "Enemy" is Jesus. His patient is a young Christian man.]
SCREWTAPE ON PRAYER
The best thing, where it is possible, is to keep the patient from the serious intention of praying altogether. . . .
Whenever they are attending to the Enemy Himself, we are defeated, but there are ways of preventing them from doing so. The simplest is to turn their gaze away from Him towards themselves. Keep them watching their own minds and trying to produce FEELINGS there by the action of their own wills. When they meant to ask Him for charity, let them, instead, start trying to manufacture charitable feelings for themselves and not notice that this is what they are doing. When they meant to pray for courage, let them really be trying to feel brave. When they say they are praying for forgiveness, let them be trying to feel forgiven. Teach them to estimate the value of each prayer by their success in producing the desired feeling.
—C. S. Lewis. (1898-1963) THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS, Revised Edition. New York: MacMillan Publishing Company, 1961, pp. 19, 20-21. ISBN 0-02-086740-9. Highly recommended.
[There are so many valuable things one can learn from this diabolical study in spiritual "negatives." It has been a huge blessing in my life. In the preface, Lewis says, "There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors, and hail a materialist and a magician with the same delight" (p. 3).]
Have a great week,
Director, Institute for Christian Worship
School of Church Music and Worship
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
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