Letters to Malcolm Chiefly on Prayer1 ) In letter one, Lewis complains of the “liturgical fidget.” He also states that, “The perfect church service would be one we were almost unaware of; our attention would have been on God.”
Do you agree or disagree. Why?
Lewis then goes on to say that, “Every novelty prevents this. It fixes our attention on the service itself; and thinking about worship is a different thing from worshipping.”
Do you agree that church services must always be exactly the same to be useful?
2) In letter two, Lewis discusses memorized (or written) prayers vs. spontaneous prayers. He states that he can take or leave memorized prayers because to him “words are secondary.” What do you think he means by “words are secondary,” and do you agree or disagree?
What are your own feelings about memorized prayers vs. spontaneous prayers?
3) In letter six, Lewis objects to the very word religion because it suggests that religion is just one more department (compartment?) in life such as economic, social, intellectual etc. But, then he says that there is danger when people understand that religion shouldn’t exist as a department because people will either think that
1) it should be abolished entirely,
2) will misinterpret extending religion into all of life by insisting that more and more secular events should be opened with prayer, “that a wearisomely explicit pietism should infest our talk, there should be no more cakes and ale,”
3) sink into despair.
What do you think of this?
4) In letter eight, Lewis says, “Some people guilty about their anxieties and regard them as a defect of faith. I don’t agree at all. They are afflictions, not sins.”
Do you agree or disagree with this?
Earlier in the same letter Lewis talks about the temptation to attempt reassurances when trying to comfort someone who is facing terminal illness (or who has just lost a loved one). Lewis says, “Even now certain remembered moments of fallacious comfort twist my heart more than the remembered moment of despair.”
Discuss this. Do you agree?
Also in letter eight Lewis talks about Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. He says, “it is clear from many of His sayings that Our Lord had long forseen His death. He knew what conduct such as His, in a world such as we have made of this, must inevitably lead to. But it is clear that this knowledge must somehow have been withdrawn from Him before He prayed in Gethsemane.”
Do you agree or disagree that the knowledge that he was going to die a horrible death was “somehow withdrawn from Him?”
5) In letter sixteen, Malcolm’s wife Betty wants to know why Lewis doesn’t “use images as the rest of us do,” and accuses him of a phobia of idolatry. Lewis says that the use of images has very limited use for him and goes on to say, “I think the mere fact of keeping one’s eyes focused on something – almost any object will do – is some help towards concentration. The visual concentration symbolizes, and promotes, the mental..”
What do you think of the use of images, such as a sanctuary cross, as part of worship space and experience?
What else helps you concentrate and focus on your prayers?