In chapter 12 of the new HarperOne book, How To Pray, we have a meditation on a specific prayer by Lewis, originally in his essay “A Slip of the Tongue” found in The Weight of Glory. He relates an experience wherein he was praying this prayer from the Book of Common Prayer:
“O GOD, the protector of all that trust in thee, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: Increase and multiply upon us thy mercy; that, thou being our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we finally lose not the things eternal: Grant this, O heavenly Father, for Jesus Christ’s sake our Lord. Amen.”
Lewis tells us how he mistakenly said, “we may so pass through things eternal, that we finally lose not the things temporal.” The essay is a meditation on his alteration. Initially he plays with it. Why would he have made that slip? Was there something going on unconsciously? And then he thinks about how he might say that kind of thing on purpose.
This leads to an excellent examination of that mistrusting reluctance to freely give ourselves away to our Lord, which simmers away in all of our hearts. He gradually deals forthrightly with the prayer as it is written. If we pass through this temporal life without having given ourselves fully to God, we will lose the things eternal.
The sidebar that Kincaid, the Editor, adds to this chapter reminds us of a theme we see elsewhere in Lewis’s writings. It is a few lines from “Five Sonnets” in Lewis’ book Poems (#4, p. 126). If we only seek Christ partially, we lose all we desire. But if we seek him alone, we get everything else thrown in. But the lines also ask the question, how do we do that? How do we live that way? How do we start? How do we move beyond merely spashing in the sea to diving fully into it?
He doesn’t answer this question, save to help us to be sure we understand the matter at hand. There is no bargaining with God, and if we do not give him all we are, that we might receive all He is, we will lose our life – eternally. It’s about what Jesus tells us in Mark 8:34-37: “And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 35 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. 36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? 37 Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”
Is not the answer for our reluctance to ask the Father to give us a renewed vision in our hearts of just how wonderful he is, so that we might desire that giving of himself to us more than anything else? Will we not then freely give ourselves to him? “We love him, because he first loved us.”
If there is any reluctance in our hearts – any reservations about our life in his hands – let us fervently pray with Moses, “LORD, show me your glory!” And may that glory heal any fear, kill any sin, and lift up our hearts in joyous abandon to him, who loves us and alone can keep us.
[image: http://38daysinegypt.blogspot.com/2013/06/climbing-mt-sinai.html ]
Reference: C. S. Lewis, How To Pray: Reflections and Essays, (New York, HarperOne, 2018), ISBN-13: 978-0062847133.
Please note that the content and viewpoints of Rev. Beckmann are his own and are not necessarily those of the C.S. Lewis Foundation. We have not edited his writing in any substantial way and have permission from him to post his content.
The Rev. David Beckmann has for many years been involved in both the Church and education. He helped to start a Christian school in South Carolina, tutored homeschoolers, and has been adjunct faculty for both Covenant College and the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga. He founded the C.S. Lewis Society of Chattanooga in 2005. He has spoken extensively on C.S Lewis, and was the Director of the C.S Lewis Study Centre at The Kilns from 2014-2015. He is currently a Regional Representative for the C.S. Lewis Foundation in Chattanooga.