C.S. Lewis’ Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer

In Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer, C.S. Lewis enters into an imaginary correspondence with a friend on the subject of prayer. Along the way, however, he touches on a variety of subjects: worship, theology, and purgatory, to name a few. Yet his primary focus is prayer, and on this he speaks to our great benefit.

This book is characteristic of Lewis’s other works in that it employs wit, humor, penetrating insights, and an almost staggering lucidity concerning the subject at hand. The format of this book (supposedly personal letters) allows Lewis a certain freedom to ramble and to conjecture. Some of his insights will delight, others will frustrate, almost any reader.

Though a fairly small book, Letters to Malcolm can be a daunting read at times. Lewis is known for his ability to communicate simple and complex truths, and those seeking for either or both will not be disappointed. He is at once amazingly practical (i.e., the posture of the body in prayer, where to pray, what time of the day is best for prayer) and refreshingly deep (i.e., the question of prayer and the impassability of God, analogical language and God). Yet one gets the feeling that Lewis is not seeking to titillate. He is extremely serious, even is his frequent use of humor and sarcasm.

I was greatly inspired by this book to evaluate my own walk with the Lord. In particular, Lewis’s emphasis on sincerity and consistency in prayer were helpful to me. I also found the discussion of prayer and the future to be very helpful as well. As an aside, Lewis’s criticisms of some church’s approaches to worship and prayer were very moving. In all, Lewis has an extremely high view of prayer, yet this doesn’t lead him into Stoicism. One also gets, as he reads this book, a very clear picture of the beauty, mystery, adventure and danger of prayer as well.

I would encourage you to read this book. You will almost certainly be blessed, not to mentioned challenged, by what you will find here.

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