Screwtape Letter #4

“My dear Wormwood,”

supplication: To ask or beg for something earnestly or humbly.
superficial: not thorough, deep, or complete
subtle: so delicate or precise as to be difficult to analyze or describe
cynical: distrustful of human sincerity or integrity
luminosity: being filled with light, so as to shine from within
puerile: childishly silly and trivial
subjective: based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions

1.The best thing, where it is possible, is to keep the patient from the serious intention of praying altogether.
A. Most Christians have this long-standing common belief that standard, or prepared prayers are not real, as in prayers memorized and “said” in childhood. Prayers read out of a book cannot be genuine. Is this true?
B. The flip side of this is to opt for “something entirely spontaneous, inward, informal, and unregularised“, thinking this style is somehow more real, more sincere. Is this true?
C. Screwtape says that we are animals and “whatever [our] bodies do affects [our] souls.” How does this relate to praying with eyes closed, head bowed, and/or on our knees? Does it really make a difference.?

2. When our prayers attend to someone other than God there is a misdirection of our prayers. With this approach our prayers are really aimed inwardly, as we attempt to pray in such a way so as to produce a desired feeling or emotion. Feelings and emotions are very much subject to a multitude of external factors such as health, rest, and stress, just to name a few. So when we pray we need to be careful to pray with God in mind, with his interests at heart – namely, to and for His glory and honor, and not our own. How do we do this?

3.Whenever there is prayer, there is danger of His own immediate action He is cynically indifferent to the dignity of His position, and ours, as pure spirits, and to human animals on their knees He pours out self-knowledge in a quite shameless fashion.” God is indeed generous and gracious when we come to Him humbly and in sincerity. How do we pray to God in this manner?
For if you return to the LORD, your brothers and your children will find compassion with their captors and return to this land. For the LORD your God is gracious and merciful and will not turn away his face from you, if you return to him. (2 Chronicles 30:9, ESV)
But he gives more grace. Therefore it says,“God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6, ESV)

4.You must keep him praying to it – to the thing that he has made, not to the Person who has made him.” We have a bad habit of making God in our own image, or praying to an idol of our own making, and thus our prayers go as far as the ceiling, and no further. It could be that our view of God contains too much of the incarnation of Jesus, and not enough of the exaltation of Jesus, seated at the right hand of the Father. How do we pray “to the Person who has made [us]”, and not just “the thing [we have] made”?
Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in* blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. (Revelation 19:11-16, ESV)
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11, ESV)

“Your affectionate uncle, Screwtape”
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