What Accounts for the Powerful Spiritual Impact of C.S. Lewis? - page 6




What Accounts for the
Powerful Spiritual Impact of C.S. Lewis?

by Lyle Dorsett,
Billy Graham Professor of Evangelism at Beeson Divinity School

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Imagine C.S. Lewis on his way to fight in World War I. What a ghastly war, enormously high casualty rate, and his dad didn’t care enough to even go and meet him at the train before he went off to be a platoon leader in the British army, an infantry officer. Pain, pain, pain; prayer, prayer.

Marj Mead has here – and at some point I think you’ll have it out so people can see it – a Bible that Flora, Mrs. Lewis, gave to each of the boys. Evidently her parting gift to her two boys was a Bible. And she wrote in the front of the Bible – the one that’s still around that people know is here at the Wade – the one that was given to Warnie. It says, “To Warnie with love from Mother” (or it might say Mamy).

Now I think there is something about the efficacy of prayer in this, that this woman’s parting gift to her boys was to give each of them a Bible. This woman knew enough that her boys were going to come into a hard time. She knew her husband. She also knew that there was a lot of prayer, probably a lot of name-it-and-claim-it prayer going on, and she probably knew full well she wasn’t going to make it. People tend to understand that sometimes. And you know her parting gift to her boys was not only a Bible; she knew they wouldn’t pitch, because it’s a parting gift from Mom; maybe they’d get into it. And I can’t help but thinking she was storming heaven and saying, “O Hound of Heaven, pursue my boys when the going gets rough. When my boys turn from You in despair, pursue them. Put people in their paths who will do what I can no longer do.” I can’t prove that that was her thought, but it’s an interesting parting gift — isn’t it? — that the boys got that.

As you flow out from this, what you find is C.S. Lewis coming down the road. If I were titling this session on prayer, I would use the phrase that he used in a letter he sent to a man who came to Christ through his prayers and his witness. He said this: “Be busy learning to pray.” Lewis always maintained that he was a rather inferior pupil in the school of prayer; he didn’t get too far in it. But he said, “I’m trying to keep learning to pray.” He wrote to Sheldon Vanauken the most important advice he could give to this newborn Christian: “The enemy, Satan, will not see you vanish into God’s company without an effort to reclaim you. Your next move,” Lewis urged, “is to be busy learning to pray.” He felt the most important weapon and protection he could give, suggest, to Vanauken for the preservation of what God had started in him was for him to get busy at prayer — and, understand, he didn’t know much about it — “Be busy learning to pray.”


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