The Efficacy of Prayer
The Efficacy of Prayer E-mail

The World's Last Night and Other Essays

"The Efficacy of Prayer"

(Originally published in The Atlantic Monthly, January 1959.)

1.  What are the implications of prayer being a request?

2.  Lewis states: "a compulsive empirical proof" for the efficacy of prayer "such as we have in the sciences can never be attained."  What about clinical research studies on the role of prayer in patient recovery done by researchers at universities?  What difficulties does Lewis see in such experiments? 

3.  When making a request of a friend or family member on what do we base our assurance of their response?    What implication does this have regarding our prayers to God? 

4.  That God answers prayer, according to Lewis, is a corollary to something much more significant.  What is the larger purpose of prayer? 

5.  What theoretical problem does petitionary prayer raise?  How does Lewis resolve it? 

6.  Why do you think God has chosen to delegate so much to humans when he could do the job better and faster? 

7.  In the next to last paragraph, Lewis suggests that success in getting prayers answered is not synonymous with spiritual maturity.  What evidence does he cite?  Consider the following:  Matthew 26:39; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10; 1 Kings 19:3-6


The woman mentioned in the third paragraph was Lewis's wife, Joy. 

". . . passages in the New Testament which may seem at first sight to promise an invariable granting of our prayers" (7th paragraph).  Lewis is referring to passages such as Matthew 7:7-8; Mark 11:24; John 15:7; 1 John 5:14-15

"You must not try experiments on God, your Master."  (8th paragraph).  Lewis may be referring to biblical references such as Exodus 17:2, Psalm 78:18, Matthew 4:7; 1 Corinthians 10:9.

© 2008 by Allyson Wieland