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C. S. Lewis and the Christian Worldview$

Michael L. Peterson

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780190201111

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190201111.001.0001

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Prayer and Providence

Prayer and Providence

(p.150) 11 Prayer and Providence
C. S. Lewis and the Christian Worldview

Michael L. Peterson

Oxford University Press

Abstract and Keywords

The nature and role of prayer in Christian life have long been items of discussion, and (like the problem of pain and suffering) they admit no easy, formulaic answers. This chapter engages Lewis’s extensive writings on prayer in general as well as the different aspects of prayer, such as praise and confession. With characteristic frankness, Lewis also tackles the difficult problem of petitionary prayer—including the perplexity created by two New Testament models of prayer—petitions on the condition that they are God’s will and petitions in faith that they will be granted. Acknowledging that he does not have the faith that assures an answer (and observing that almost no Christians really seem to have that kind of faith either), Lewis says that the Christian must engage in the first type of prayer. Lewis also discusses the role of prayer in a relational universe in which a relational God seeks relationship with us—partly to make the point that prayer is not just petition and partly to make the point that relationship with God in prayer helps transform us. Another topic regarding Lewis and prayer is the nature of divine providence if God is timeless and knows timelessly what needs to occur—why pray?

Keywords:   prayer, providence, petition, relationship, faith, foreknowledge, time

Although C. S. Lewis was typically shy about his inner life, he wrote a significant amount of material on prayer, revealing some of his personal struggles with prayer and offering important insights into the role of prayer in Christian life. Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer, published posthumously, as well as three earlier essays focus directly on various theological, spiritual, and practical questions about prayer. With its genius epistolary format, Malcolm allowed Lewis the freedom of a conversational style that recorded his side of the correspondence with a fictional friend. Additional comments about prayer appear in other writings, including a technical theory of prayer and providence in “Appendix B” of Miracles. Although Lewis tried writing a systematic book on prayer, various conceptual obstacles—ambiguities and seemingly unresolvable paradoxes regarding petitionary prayer—discouraged him from finishing it. Such a book “was clearly not for me,” he admitted in a letter to Sister Penelope.1 A forty-eight-page manuscript fragment has survived, but its contents are consistent with his thoughts in Malcolm, which exhibits greater development and depth of insight.2 In all, Lewis has provided a thorough, but not systematic, contribution to the theology of prayer that is logically connected to certain interpretations of God’s knowledge and power as well as to God’s relational purposes for Christian life.

Prayer and Christian Life

Lewis was orthodox not only in his Christian beliefs but also in his Christian practices, such as attending church and reading the Bible.3 The practice of prayer for Lewis was something earthy and realistic—the honest, unpretentious expression of the heart which should not seek to impress God or other persons. In fact, Lewis says in Malcolm that praying with mental concentration is a “golden moment,” which we do not often achieve because of our tendency toward disordered and distracted thinking.4

Since the different ways we can relate to God in prayer constitute another subject, Lewis concerned himself with what prayer is: open communication with God. Anglican priest and theologian Joseph Cassidy compares Lewis’s approach to that of St. Ignatius of Loyola in his focus on the deep relation of the self to God.5 For both Ignatius and Lewis, there must be an “unveiling” of the self to (p.151) God and no attempt at self-concealment, but this is not because God does not already know us, as Lewis clarifies:

We are always completely, and therefore equally, known to God. That is our destiny whether we like it or not. But though this knowledge never varies, the quality of our being known can. . . . Ordinarily, to be known by God is to be, for this purpose, in the category of things. We are, like earthworms, cabbages, and nebulae, objects of Divine knowledge. But when we (a) become aware of this fact—the present fact, not the generalization—and (b) assent with all our will to be known, then we treat ourselves, in relation to God, not as things but as persons. We have unveiled. Not that any veil could have baffled his sight. The change is in us. The passive changes to the active. Instead of merely being known, we show, we tell, we offer ourselves to view.6

In intimate personal relationship with God, we are transformed—or, in Lewis’s words, we become our “true selves.” We ought not “shrink from too naked a contact” and should offer even our doubts and fears to God, our prayers of lament and questioning.7

Of course, in our present imperfect state, Lewis stated, prayer is a duty. However, the duty of prayer—like moral duty—exists to be transcended, one day to be done joyfully and spontaneously out of love: “I must say my prayers today whether I feel devout or not; but that is only as I must learn my grammar if I am ever to read the poets.”8 Prayer is, for Lewis, an essential part of the turning toward God that constitutes our proper response to his overtures toward us.

Aspects of Prayer

Lewis sees honest, authentic relationship as the foundation—and the chief goal—of prayer. To emphasize this aim, Lewis suggests a preamble before all other prayers: “May it be the real I who speaks. May it be the real Thou that I speak to.”9 Lewis further advises that we must not be “too high-minded” or assume an artificial dignity when we pray.10 Self-deceit, he asserts, must be overcome: “It is no use to ask God with factitious earnestness for A when our whole mind is in reality filled with the desire for B. We must lay before Him what is in us, not what ought to be in us.”11

Nevertheless, the various aspects of prayer or ways of relating to God in prayer—such as gratitude, adoration, confession, petition—are important and can assist our disordered souls to communicate more clearly with God. One aspect of prayer is the expression of gratitude to God for one’s blessings. Adoration (p.152) in prayer, then, follows and says, “What must be the quality of that Being whose far-off and momentary coruscations are like this!”12

Adoration in prayer leads naturally, Lewis indicated, to repentance, to a confession of our sins and tendencies not to live as we should. However, repentance is not, in his estimation, one step in a formula for receiving absolution. Rather, as Lewis wrote in one letter, repentance is most importantly about restoring personal relationship:

At the highest level, . . . the attempt is . . . to restore an infinitely valued and vulnerable personal relation which has been shattered by an action of one’s own, and if forgiveness, in the “crude” sense of remission of penalty, comes in, this is valued chiefly as a symptom or seal or even by-product of the reconciliation.13

The relational breach is the primary problem that repentance seeks to address, and the goal is reconciliation. Lewis introduced the image of friends and lovers, who may quarrel intensely yet simultaneously maintain their love for one another:

Anger—no peevish fit of temper, but just, generous, scalding indignation—passes (not necessarily at once) into embracing, exultant, re-welcoming love. That is how friends and lovers are truly reconciled. Hot wrath, hot love. Such anger is the fluid that love bleeds when you cut it.14

As Lewis noted, the most enlightening images for our interactions with God are always drawn from “deeply personal relationships.”

While he stressed often that prayers must be from the heart, Lewis also endorsed using preformed prayers, such as The Lord’s Prayer, which is the model prayer for Christians that includes all important aspects, such as adoration and supplication. He also used the Anglican Book of Common Prayer as an aid, which he indicates to Malcolm:

First, it keeps me in touch with “sound doctrine.” Left to oneself, one could easily slide away from “the faith once given” into a phantom called “my religion.” Secondly, it reminds me “what things I ought to ask” (perhaps especially when I am praying for other people). . . . Finally, [it provides] an element of the ceremonial. On your view, that is just what we don’t want. On mine, it is part of what we want.15

The ceremonial type of prayer here is not nominal or artificial but is instead the earnest adoption of a common structure for prayer that one does not create, which serves as a balance against self-absorption in prayer. “Infinitely various,” (p.153) observed Lewis, “are the levels from which we pray,” but emotional intensity, as Lewis learned in childhood, is not an indication of spiritual depth.16

Puzzles of Petitionary Prayer

Lewis had previously made significant forays into problems of petitionary prayer in three earlier essays, which are, in chronological order, “Work and Prayer,” “Petitionary Prayer,” and “The Efficacy of Prayer.” In this section, we look closely at the first two essays, and we cover the third essay in the next.

Appearing in 1845, “Work and Prayer” answers two common objections to prayer. It begins with a statement of the critic’s “case against prayer,” the objection that petitionary prayer can be eliminated as presumptuous because it instructs the omniscient God about things he already knows as he governs the world:

Even if I . . . admit that answers to prayer are theoretically possible, I shall still think they are infinitely improbable. I don’t think it at all likely that God requires the ill-informed (and contradictory) advice of us humans as to how to run the world. If He is all-wise, . . . doesn’t He know already what is best? And if He is all-good, won’t He do it whether we pray or not?17

Lewis takes this challenge seriously, and his response rejects the typical defense that the challenge only strikes at “the lowest sort of prayer,” which “asks for things to happen” whereas “higher” forms of prayer enter “communion” with God without asking anything.18 The Christian tradition, he argued, has never considered petition a lower type of prayer. After all, the Lord’s Prayer, with its petitions, is the way Jesus himself taught believers to pray.

The second objection is that petition is pointless because it seeks to influence God’s providential activity to do something he would not otherwise have done in governing the world. However, Lewis counters this objection by arguing that God’s perfect wisdom and goodness in guiding events would, by the same logic, undermine the need for any human action whatsoever. Lewis writes,

In every action, just as in every prayer, you are trying to bring about a certain result; and this result must be good or bad. Why, then, do we not argue as the opponents of prayer argue, and say that if the intended result is good God will bring it to pass without your interference, and that if it is bad He will prevent it happening whatever you do?19

“In that case,” Lewis asks rhetorically, “why do anything?” We know instinctively that we can act and that our actions produce results, which leads Lewis to argue (p.154) that prayer is no different from overt action in seeking results. To Pascal’s statement that God “instituted prayer in order to allow his creatures the dignity of causality,” he added that God gave us “physical action for that purpose” as well.20 Lewis concluded, “Everyone who believes in God must therefore admit (quite apart from the question of prayer) that God has not chosen to write the whole of history with His own hand.”21 The way the world turns out, then, represents a combination of divine and human actions:

It is like a play in which the scene and the general outline of the story is fixed by the author, but certain minor details are left for the actors to improvise. It may be a mystery why He should have allowed us to cause real events at all; but it is no odder that He should allow us to cause them by praying than by any other method.22

By both prayer and action, rational creatures are able to contribute to the course of history, which Lewis notes “admits a certain amount of free play and can be modified in response to our prayers.”23

In addressing the problem of petitionary prayer, contemporary Christian philosopher Eleonore Stump quotes Aquinas: “we pray not in order to change the divine disposition but for the sake of acquiring by petitionary prayer what God has disposed to be achieved by prayer.”24 Stump argues that God has chosen to work through the intermediary of prayer for the sake of relationship:

[Prayer safeguards] the weaker member of the relation from the overwhelming domination and overwhelming spoiling, it helps to preserve a close relationship between an omniscient, omnipotent, perfectly good person and a fallible, finite, imperfect person.25

Lewis also argues Thomistically that it is a false dichotomy to assume that divine and human actions are mutually exclusive.26

In “Petitionary Prayer: A Problem Without an Answer,” which was originally a talk delivered at the Oxford Clerical Society in 1953, Lewis wrestles with the two seemingly contradictory models of prayer that are presented in the New Testament.27 What he calls “A Pattern” prayer is exemplified by the Lord’s Prayer, which makes requests conditional—“Thy will be done”—and does not reflect unhesitating certainty that the thing requested will be given. Jesus in Gethsemene passionately prayed this kind of prayer—hoping to avoid his impending death—and the request was not granted. However, what Lewis calls “B Pattern” prayer, also involves a conditional request but proceeds from a strong faith that can “move mountains,”28 which many interpret to be an absolute confidence that what is being requested will be delivered. Although moving mountains is (p.155) obviously hyperbole, the idea of doing mighty works via B Pattern prayer is clear. For example, John 14:13 indicates that whatever a believer asks “in the name of Jesus” will be done.

The two patterns, both strongly encouraged in the New Testament, appear to be mutually exclusive. Well before Lewis delivered “Petitionary Prayer” as a talk to the Clerical Society, he wrote a letter on January 14, 1953, to his friend Don Giovanni Calabria, an Italian priest, to seek advice:

How is it possible for a man, at one and the same moment of time, both to believe most fully that he will receive and to submit himself to the will of God—who is perhaps refusing him? How is it possible to say simultaneously, “I firmly believe that Thou wilt give me this,” and, “If Thou shalt deny me it, Thy will be done”? How can one mental act both exclude possible refusal and consider it?29

We do not know how Don Giovanni responded to this question, but we do know that Lewis continued to struggle with it, writing to his friend again on March 17, 1953, that he was “asking all theologians: so far in vain.”30 In fact, he abandoned his systematic book on prayer because he had encountered this problem which he could not solve.

In addition to attempting to reconcile A and B Pattern prayers, Lewis tried but could not square B Pattern prayers with the facts that many go unanswered. For all the biblical assurances, many confident petitions are not granted. During the twentieth century, as he reminds the reader, the Christian church worldwide prayed for peace during two World Wars and no peace was given. Although some defenders have dodged the point by saying that unwavering faith is a general faith in the character of Christ but not faith that a particular event will occur, Lewis pointed out instances in which “the faith seems to be very definitely attached to the particular gift”—such as the healing of the blind man in Matthew 9:28.31 Lewis admitted that the theoretical problem is frighteningly practical because we need guidance in order to know how to pray.

Lewis never arrived at a satisfactory answer: “I have no answer to my problem, though I have taken it to about every Christian I know, learned or simple, lay or clerical, within my own Communion or without.”32 But whatever else B Pattern faith may mean, he insisted to the ministers that “it does not mean any state of psychological certitude” but is rather a gift from God, without which such faith is impossible.33 In the end, Lewis took a practical posture about prayer:

[C]an I ease my problem by saying until God gives me such a faith I have no practical decision to make; I must pray after the A Pattern because, in fact, I cannot pray after the B Pattern? If, on the other hand, God even gave me (p.156) such a faith, then again I should have no decision to make; I should find myself praying in the B Pattern.34

He closes by humbly asking the reverend Fathers, “How am I to pray this very night?”

Does Prayer Work?

Perhaps the question about prayer that is asked most frequently is, does it work? Marjorie Lamp Mead, a Lewis commentator, unpacks the question: “When we pray to God and make a request, how do we know that our prayer achieved the result? In other words, is answered prayer simply a fortunate coincidence that would have occurred whether or not we had asked for it?”35 In his 1959 piece “The Efficacy of Prayer,” Lewis wrestles with the central question, what is the relationship of prayer and outcome?

He particularly focuses on his experience with prayer for his beloved Joy in her struggle with cancer. On March 21, 1957, the Reverend Peter Bide, a friend and former student of Lewis, performed a Christian wedding for the couple in Joy’s hospital room and then administered the sacraments and prayed for Joy’s healing. A few days later, the physicians released her to live out her last days at the Kilns. Her condition soon unexpectedly improved, giving the couple great hope and enabling them to take a honeymoon to Ireland and Wales and later a trip to Greece. Lewis wrote,

I have stood by the bedside of a woman whose thighbone was eaten through with cancer and who had thriving colonies of the disease in many other bones as well. . . . A good man laid his hands on her and prayed. A year later the patient was walking (uphill, too, through rough woodland) and the man who took the last X-ray photos was saying, “These bones are as solid as rock. It’s miraculous.”36

Even for this dramatic example, Lewis admitted that there is “no rigorous proof” of “a causal connection between the prayers and the recovery.”37

Then he posed the follow-up question: “What sort of evidence would prove the efficacy of prayer?” Supposing that the outcome were somehow indisputably miraculous, “it would not follow that the miracle had occurred because of your prayers,” for such reasoning would commit the post hoc fallacy of thinking that correlation was causation.38 For this reason, Lewis argues, no form of empirical proof—“unbroken uniformity” or “experiment”—can show that a given event occurred because of prayer. Furthermore, even “invariable ‘success’ in prayer (p.157) would not prove the Christian doctrine at all” but something very different—like magic or manipulation.39 Besides, the most telling counterexample to anything like a guarantee of answered prayer is found in Jesus facing his own impending death: “In Gethsemane the holiest of all petitioners prayed three times that a certain cup might pass from Him. It did not. After that the idea that prayer is recommended to us as a sort of infallible gimmick may be dismissed.”40

For another thing, no reliable experiment can be constructed to test the efficacy of prayer. For Lewis, the structure of the experiment would be something like the following: “a team of people—the more the better—should agree to pray as hard as they knew how, over a period of six weeks, for all the patients in Hospital A and none of those in Hospital B.”41 Results would be tallied to see if A had more cures and fewer deaths. In reality, studies very much like this have been conducted—for example, the intercessory prayer experiment of Victorian scientist Francis Galton and the Templeton Foundation Prayer Study.42 Unfortunately, such experiments violate the nature of prayer itself because they are generated out of curiosity rather than heartfelt need: “The real purpose and the nominal purpose of your prayers are at variance. In other words, whatever your tongue and teeth and knees may do, you are not praying. The experiment demands an impossibility.”43 After analyzing many scientific studies of prayer, Richard Sloan, professor of behavioral medicine at Columbia University, reached a similar conclusion: that studying religion scientifically is reductionistic toward religion and demeaning of science by pretending it can test and study something that cannot be measured.44

Lewis concluded that the question “Does prayer work?” must itself be questioned because it invites wrongheaded notions of what it means for prayer to “work” so that testing it might seem feasible. Lewis, however, placed emphasis on his persistent theme that prayer is personal communion between the believer and God:

Prayer is either a sheer illusion or a personal contact between embryonic, incomplete persons (ourselves) and the utterly concrete Person. (Prayer in the sense of petition, asking for things, is a small part of it; confession and penitence are its threshold, adoration its sanctuary, the presence and vision and enjoyment of God its bread and wine.) In it God shows Himself to us. That He answers prayers is a corollary—not necessarily the most important one—from that revelation. What He does is learned from what He is.45

Prayer “works” if it enables us to know God better; whether God gives us what we request is irrelevant to its efficacy. Nonetheless, as Lewis indicated, Jesus both allowed and specifically commanded petitionary prayer—“Give us this day our daily bread”—and it must be offered as humble request.

(p.158) In this light, the question “Does prayer work?” should be reinterpreted as asking whether God ever modifies his actions in response to human prayers.46 Assurance that prayer is effective, he explained, is not empirical knowledge but interpersonal knowledge, which is based on the character of God, much like our personal knowledge of friends or spouses of whom we also make requests and who sometimes act because we asked.47 But God, like our friends, sometimes grants and sometimes declines our requests, a realization that became very personal to Lewis as he grieved the loss of Joy. For two years after Bide’s prayer for Joy, he had considered her healed, until she was again diagnosed with cancer in the fall of 1959, shaking his confidence in prayer:

What chokes every prayer and every hope is the memory of all the prayers H. and I offered and all the false hopes we had. Not hopes raised merely by our own wishful thinking, hopes encouraged, even forced upon us, by false diagnoses, by X-ray photographs, by strange remissions, by one temporary recovery that might have ranked as a miracle.48

In his grief, Lewis lost sight of God’s character and the nature of prayer, but as he worked through his grief, he returned to the most central truth about prayer as communion between friends.

Prayer and God’s Providential Activity

Our thinking about prayer inevitably rests on philosophical assumptions about God’s attributes and purposes in relation to human choice and action. These assumptions shape our theories, for example, about how God’s providence can respond to any and all prayers in the unfolding history of the world or about how divine providence and human free will can be reconciled. Lewis expressed definite views on these matters, which we must now briefly explore and assess in terms of his overall worldview commitments.

To explain how God responds to petitionary prayers, Lewis relied on a view of divine timelessness: “if our prayers are granted at all they are granted from the foundation of the world.”49 In short, “God and his acts are not in time”—instead God timelessly takes all prayers into account and timelessly decides on the whole course of events:

Intercourse between God and man occurs at particular moments for the man, but not for God. If there is—as the very concept of prayer presupposes—an adaptation between the free actions of men in prayer and the course of events, this adaptation is from the beginning inherent in the great single creative act.50

(p.159) Although humans experience time as a flow—as a succession of past, present, and future moments—God’s experience is “an infinite present, where nothing has yet passed away and nothing is still to come.”51 Boethius, whom Lewis loved, famously defended the view that God experiences an Eternal Now—which is “the whole of everlasting life in one simultaneous present.”52

God’s timeless apprehension of creaturely events, then, informs his providential guidance of the world, as his infinite wisdom takes into account all prayers and actions of free creatures in ordering the course of events. “God’s creative act,” Lewis wrote, “is timeless and timelessly adapted to the ‘free’ elements within it.” From the creaturely side, “this timeless adaptation meets our consciousness as a sequence of prayer and answer.”53 Thus, both prayer and all our other acts contribute to the “cosmic shape” that God timelessly constructs according to his good purposes.

It does not appear that Lewis considered the concept of divine timelessness problematic for creaturely libertarian free will, possibly as raising problems of determinism or fatalism. As he explained, if God were within time foreseeing our choices and acts, it would be hard to understand how we could be free not to do them. But since God is outside of time, “what we call ‘tomorrow’ is visible to Him in just that same way as what we call ‘today.’ . . . He does not ‘foresee’ you doing things tomorrow; he simply sees you doing them.”54 In philosophical terms, Lewis most obviously took timelessness to entail simple foreknowledge, as did Augustine and Boethius, which is the idea that God timelessly knows what is the actual future for us, that is, what finite persons will do.55

Yet some Lewis passages suggest that his view of timelessness leads to the stronger position of middle knowledge, which asserts that God timelessly knows what personal creatures would do in all possible circumstances. This theory was first proposed by Luis de Molina, a sixteenth-century Jesuit thinker who posited a state of divine knowledge “between” God’s knowledge of all necessary truths and his knowledge of all contingent truths about the actual world, including truths about free creaturely actions.56 Lewis sometimes sounds like he accepts divine middle knowledge that knows what a free creature would do if certain circumstances occurred. Lewis stated that God knew that Abraham “would obey” if tested and nevertheless tested his faith anyway by commanding him to sacrifice Isaac.57 In The Magician’s Nephew, Aslan tells Digory that if he would have stolen the magic apple to heal his mother, it would not have brought him joy.58

Now, although Lewis officially gave allegiance to the concept of timelessness as making sense of divine knowledge in relation to prayer, it is far from obvious that timelessness fits coherently with other key elements of Lewis’s overall vision of reality. It could be argued that timelessness—including timeless knowledge—is incompatible with other key elements in Lewis’s worldview, such as authentic (p.160) divine–human relationship, the Trinitarian Life, and even God’s actions in history, including the Incarnation. Christian philosopher William Hasker argues that divine timelessness cannot make sense of personal relationship between God and creatures:

[I]n responding to another it is of the essence that one first acts, then waits for the other to react, then acts responsively, and so on. There seems to be no way this sequence could be collapsed, as it were, into a single timeless moment.59

The same point applies to Lewis’s social Trinitarian thinking. Lewis’s central image of God as the Great Dance—a dynamic, never-ending Life of mutual giving and receiving among the divine persons—becomes incomprehensible given timelessness. Joseph Cassidy extends the point further to the fact that the Second Person of the Trinity, God the Son, became forever bonded with a historical person, Jesus of Nazareth. A timeless God “cannot easily be reconciled with Chalcedon or later ecumenical councils,” he argues, because “the Incarnation clearly implies that God acts in time.”60

For such reasons, we can critically but sympathetically recommend that divine timelessness in Lewis (and all its Platonic baggage such as divine impassibility) must be rejected to preserve his central commitments to a created universe of genuinely interpersonal relationships, the inner nature of the Trinitarian Life, and God’s actions in history. We can appreciate that Lewis thought that timelessness, as a theory of divine eternity, offered a way of distinguishing the qualitatively different kind of existence God possesses from the kind of existence possessed by all temporal creatures. However, he did not detect that the apparent benefits of timelessness for his views on prayer and providence are more than offset by its liabilities for absolutely essential ideas in his Christian worldview. Partly, we are encountering here the fact that Lewis was not always systematic in constructing his worldview, leaving us to organize and prioritize its various elements. But his unsystematic approach does not cancel the need to identify the central elements of his worldview and present them as a coherent whole, a presentation that will fail with timelessness in the mix.

Of course, some theory of divine eternity besides timelessness must make better sense of Lewis’s central ideas. In recent decades, the theory of everlastingness, for example, has been articulated by Christian philosophers seeking to avoid the static and nonrelational implications of timelessness.61 Christian philosopher Nicholas Wolterstorff argues that the theory of everlastingness—that God has no beginning or end and yet acts in time—is a better interpretation of the biblical picture of God as agent and redeemer.62 Although further exploration of the theory of everlastingness lies beyond the present discussion, everlastingness promises to be much more compatible with the nonnegotiable (p.161) commitments in Lewis’s overall vision of reality. Interestingly, Lewis himself actually opened the way for considering alternatives to timelessness when he wrote that “[timelessness] is not in the Bible or any of the creeds. You can be a perfectly good Christian without accepting it, or indeed without thinking of the matter at all.”63 In other words, we can know that God providentially responds to prayer without knowing precisely how God is related to time such that prayer is warranted in God’s economy. Furthermore, the issues surrounding prayer and providence in Lewis simply highlight how important it was for him that God’s goal of relationship with created persons be seen in all its significance, a goal we explore more fully in the next chapter.


(1.) Letter to Sister Penelope CSMV, February 15, 1954 (CLIII 428).

(2.) C. S. Lewis, unfinished manuscript on prayer (Wheaton, IL: Marion E. Wade Center, Wheaton College, n/d).

(3.) “Answers to Questions on Christianity,” GID 36–53; ROP 5.

(4.) LTM 11, 18.

(5.) Joseph P. Cassidy, “On Discernment,” in The Cambridge Companion to C. S. Lewis, ed. Robert MacSwain and Michael Ward (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 132–133, Kindle.

(6.) LTM 20–21.

(7.) LTM 114.

(8.) LTM 115.

(9.) LTM 82.

(10.) LTM 23.

(11.) LTM 22.

(12.) LTM 90.

(13.) LTM 95.

(14.) LTM 97.

(15.) LTM 12.

(16.) LTM 82.

(17.) “Work and Prayer,” GID 104.

(18.) “Work and Prayer,” GID 104.

(19.) “Work and Prayer,” GID 105.

(20.) “Work and Prayer,” GID 106.

(21.) “Work and Prayer,” GID 106.

(22.) “Work and Prayer,” GID 106.

(23.) “Work and Prayer,” GID 106.

(24.) Eleonore Stump, “Petitionary Prayer,” American Philosophical Quarterly 16, no. 2 (April 1979): 81–91; Aquinas, Summa Theologiæ, 2a2æ.83.2.

(25.) Stump, “Petitionary Prayer,” 90.

(26.) LTM 36.

(27.) “Petitionary Prayer,” CR 175–186.

(28.) Matthew 21:21.

(29.) Letter to Don Giovanni Calabria, January 14, 1953 (LDGC 79).

(30.) Letter to Don Giovanni Calabria, March 17, 1953 (LDGC 83).

(31.) “Petitionary Prayer,” CR 179.

(32.) “Petitionary Prayer,” CR 185.

(33.) “Petitionary Prayer,” CR 185.

(34.) “Petitionary Prayer,” CR 185.

(35.) Marjorie Lamp Mead, “Letters to Malcolm with Marjorie Lamp Mead,” C. S. Lewis Institute, Falls Church, VA, April 29–30, 2011, http://www.cslewisinstitute.org/Letters_to_Malcolm.

(36.) “The Efficacy of Prayer,” WLN 3–4.

(37.) “The Efficacy of Prayer,” WLN 4.

(38.) “The Efficacy of Prayer,” WLN 4; see also LTM 48.

(39.) “The Efficacy of Prayer,” WLN 5.

(40.) “The Efficacy of Prayer,” WLN 5.

(41.) “The Efficacy of Prayer,” WLN 5.

(42.) Francis Galton, “Statistical Inquiries into the Efficacy of Prayer,” Fortnightly Review 12 (1872): 125–135, repr. in International Journal of Epidemiology 41, no. 4 (August 2012): 923–928; Herbert Benson, Jeffery A. Dusek, Jane B. Sherwood, Richard Friedman, Patricia Myers, Charles F. Bethea, Sidney Levitsky, Peter C. Hill, Manoj K. Jain, Stephen L. Kopecky, Paul S. Mueller, Peter Lam, Herbert Benson, and Patricia L. Hibberd, “Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer (STEP) in Cardiac Bypass Patients,” American Heart Journal 151, no. 4 (April 2006): 934–942.

(43.) “The Efficacy of Prayer,” WLN 6.

(44.) Richard P. Sloan, Blind Faith: The Unholy Alliance of Religion and Medicine (New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2006), 241–242.

(45.) “The Efficacy of Prayer,” WLN 8.

(46.) “The Efficacy of Prayer,” WLN 8.

(47.) “The Efficacy of Prayer,” WLN 7.

(48.) GO 23.

(49.) LTM 48.

(50.) LTM 48.

(51.) LTM 109.

(52.) Boethius, Consolation of Philosophy, 5.6.

(53.) M 274.

(54.) MC 170.

(55.) See MC 166–171 and M app. B.

(56.) Luis de Molina, On Divine Foreknowledge Part VI of the Concordia, trans. Alfred J. Freddoso (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1988); also Nolan Whitaker, “What Would Aslan Do? A Molinist Approach to C. S. Lewis,” Nolan Whitaker (blog), May 17, 2015. https://nolanwhitaker.wordpress.com/2015/05/17/what-would-aslan-do-a-molinist-approach-to-c-s-lewis/

(57.) PP 101ff.

(58.) MN 158.

(59.) William Hasker, God, Time, and Knowledge (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1989), 155–156.

(60.) Cassidy, “On Discernment,” 138.

(61.) Michael Peterson, William Hasker, Bruce Reichenbach, and David Basinger, Reason and Religious Belief: An Introduction to Philosophy of Religion, 5th ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), 149–152.

(62.) Nicholas Wolterstorff, “God Is Everlasting,” in Philosophy of Religion: Selected Readings, 5th ed., ed. Michael Peterson, William Hasker, Bruce Reichenbach, and David Basinger (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014), 259–265.

(63.) MC 171.