Letters 16-18
Letters 16-18 E-mail

Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer

Letters 16-18

Letter 16

  1. What is your image of God?

  2. Consider some of the imagery given in the Bible. What do these images suggest about God's nature?

    Rock/Fortress: Psalm 18:2, 31, and 46; Isaiah 26:4   

    Light: Psalm 27:1; Isaiah 60:20  

    Fire: Exodus 24:17; Deuteronomy 9:3; Hebrews 12:29  

    Potter:  Isaiah 64:8; Romans 9:20-21  

    Shepherd:  Genesis 48:15; Psalm 23:1 and 28:9  

  3. What problem does Lewis experience with physical images? With mental images? Do you find mental and/or physical images helpful or problematic?

  4. Nevertheless, mental images play an important part in Lewis's prayers. How does he describe the images that help him most?

    Letter 17

  5. What principle of worship and adoration did Malcolm teach Lewis?

    Can you think of a casual comment someone made that ended up having a significant spiritual impact on your life?

  6. How does Lewis define "pleasures" and "bad pleasures"?

  7. Contrast the ways in which gratitude and adoration respond to pleasure.

  8. List the four obstacles to using the pleasure of ordinary things as a basis for adoration. Which one is the greatest obstacle for you?

  9. Identify some "patches of Godlight" you have experienced.

  10. Do you agree/disagree with Lewis's statement that "the simplest act of mere obedience is worship of a far more important sort"?

  11. Simply enjoy the last paragraph.

    Letter 18

  12. How is resentment like lust?

  13. Malcolm attempts to soft-pedal the wrath of God. Lewis prefers to go with wrath and anger. What reasons does he give?

  14. What danger does Lewis see in dwelling upon our depravity or fallen state?

  15. Lewis contends that our emotional response does not necessarily equate with the gravity of our sin. Do you agree or disagree?


St. Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556) [Ltr 16]: Born a nobleman, he became a soldier.  After receiving a serious wound in the leg, Loyola read a biography of Christ while convalescing, which resulted in his conversion.  He became a priest and founded the Jesuit order.  Spiritual Exercises is his best-known work.

compositio loci [Ltr 16]: composition of place

theophany [Ltr. 17]: a visible manifestation of God

via crucis [Ltr 17]: way of the cross

William Law (1686-1761) [Ltr 17]: Anglican clergyman and devotional writer.  In 1729, he wrote A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life, which argued that Christianity affects every area of life, including business and leisure as well as devotional practices.  This book was a favorite of John Wesley.  In 1731, he wrote The Case of Reason, which contended that as important as reason is, it alone cannot grasp the mysteries of God without the aid of divine revelation.

mala mentis gaudia [Ltr 18]: the wicked pleasures of the mind

neque secundum iniquitates nostras retribuas nobis [Ltr 18]: nor has thou rewarded us according to our wickedness

Alexander Whyte (1837-1921) [Ltr 18]: Scottish Presbyterian minister described as "a Puritan risen from the dead."  An illegitimate child born into poverty, he eventually pastored the largest church in Scotland.

Morris [Ltr 18]: refers to Clifford Morris, Lewis's taxi driver and friend.  Lewis never learned how to drive an automobile.

Grace Abounding [Ltr 18]: refers to John Bunyan's (1628-1688) autobiography Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners (1666). 

St. François de Sales (1567-1622) [Ltr 18]:  Priest who became Bishop of Geneva.  A prolific writer on the mysteries of the spiritual life.

© 2007 Allyson Wieland