Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer - C. S. Lewis
Lewis is always such a delightful read. His letters to a friend concerning worship and prayer are profound and stimulating. He is a committed liturgist, believing that novelty has "only entertainment value": "The perfect church service would be one we were almost unaware of; our attention would have been on God. But every novelty prevents this. It fixes our attention on the service itself; and thinking about worship is a different thing from worshipping" (4).
He wrestles with the fact that God is both closer to us than we can imagine yet also infinitely distant. He reminds us that praying for others is easier than "doing" for others: "It's so much easier to pray for a bore than to go and see him" (66).
Prayer is not wish-fulfillment, for God has "rough edges": "nothing which is at all times and in every way agreeable to us can have objective reality. It is of the very nature of the real that it should have sharp corners and rough edges, that it should be resistant, should be itself" (76). A real relationship with the real God will include such edges. Thus Lewis argues that the "prayer preceding all prayers" should be "May it be the real I who speaks. May it be the real Thou that I speak to" (82). Great book!