Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer
Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer E-mail

Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer

Introduction

                This is the last book that C. S. Lewis wrote.  He completed the manuscript in May 1963 and died November 22, 1963.  The book was published posthumously.  He actually began to write a book on prayer in 1952, but got stuck and put it aside.  A decade later, he had the idea of structuring the book as a series of letters.  Writing came easily after that.  In addition, the structure allows Lewis to muse on various aspects of prayer without coming across as an expert. 

            Who was Malcolm?  Unlike Mary, in Letters to an American Lady, who was an actual person, Malcolm is an imaginary friend.  The fictional Malcolm is a former college classmate, a layman, and an Anglican.  He is middle-aged with a wife named Betty and a son George.  The developing correspondence allows Lewis to discuss aspects of prayer within the context of life experiences -- albeit a fictional family -- instead of as abstract concepts.

            This book was written after A Grief Observed.  To some, it confirms that Lewis had recovered his faith after it was severely tested by the death of his wife, Joy.

 

Further Reading:

Dorsett, Lyle, Seeking the Secret Place: The Spiritual Formation of C.S. Lewis (2004) -chapter 2 on prayer.

Lewis, C.S., Letters to an American Lady (1967), ed. by Clyde S. Kilby - the letters of 20 Feb. 1955 and 31 March 1958 address prayer.

Lewis, C.S., The Screwtape Letters (1942) - Letters 8, 12, and 27 mention prayer.

Lewis, C.S., The Latin Letters of C.S. Lewis (1987), ed. by Martin Moynihan - In his correspondence with Italian priest, Don Giovanni Calabria, Lewis discusses his difficulty in writing a book on prayer.  See letters of 5 Jan. 1953 and 14 Jan. 1953.

Lewis, C.S., "The Efficacy of Prayer" in The World's Last Night and Other Essays (1960).

Lewis, C.S., "Petitionary Prayer: A Problem Without an Answer" in The Seeing Eye: and Other Selected Essays from Christian Reflections (1967).

www.lewisiana.nl/malcolmquotes -- This web site is in both Dutch and English.  Mr. Smilde has tracked down many of the quotations and allusions Lewis uses in his work.  There is a 27-page file to accompany Letters to Malcolm