Footnote to All Prayers

 Footnote to All Prayers

      He whom I bow to only knows to whom I bow
      When I attempt the ineffable Name, murmuring Thou,
      And dream of Pheidian fancies and embrace in heart
      Symbols (I know) which cannot be the thing Thou art.
      Thus always, taken at their word, all prayers blaspheme
      Worshipping with frail images a folk-lore dream,
      And all men in their praying, self-deceived, address
      The coinage of their own unquiet thoughts, unless
      Thou in magnetic mercy to Thyself divert
      Our arrows, aimed unskilfully, beyond desert;
      And all men are idolators, crying unheard
      To a deaf idol, if Thou take them at their word.

      Take not, O Lord, our literal sense.  Lord, in thy great
      Unbroken speech our limping metaphor translate.

– C. S. Lewis

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2 responses to “Footnote to All Prayers

  1. Hey! Luther’s reason for Sacraments!

    This really is a conundrum. If we don’t take Lewis’ attitude, all our prayers are worthless. On the other hand, if we do, all prayer, no matter how idolatrous is good. Or we draw the line somewhere, and introduce works into our prayers–into Faith itself. “That prayer isn’t good enough for God to accept, pray better and he’ll give congruent merit to your prayers.”

    No, say rather, “You must pray perfectly. But you have been baptized. Here is the perfect prayer. ‘I baptize you in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.’ But do not stop there. You’ve been conceived anew, you’ve been born anew. Strive for maturity. What’s that? How hard must you strive? Perfectly. Nothing less will suffice. But here is the perfect prayer–taking and eating, taking and drinking for the remission of sins. This food shall not fail you, for it is Christ Himself.”

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