Sermon Illustrations

Sermon Illustrations > Prayer > C. S. Lewis
C. S. Lewis

Quoted in Disappointment With God, Philip Yancey, Zondervan, p. 208

In an essay on prayer, C. S. Lewis suggested that God treats new Christians with a special kind of tenderness, much as a parent dotes on a newborn. He quotes an experienced Christian:

"I have seen many striking answers to prayer and more than one that I thought miraculous. But they usually come at the beginning before conversion, or soon after it. As the Christian life proceeds, they tend to be rarer. The refusals, too, are not only more frequent; they become more unmistakable, more emphatic."

At first glance, such a suggestion seems to have it all backward. Shouldn't faith become easier, not harder, as a Christian progresses? But, as Lewis points out, the New Testament gives two strong examples of unanswered prayers: Jesus pled three times for God to "Take this cup from me" and Paul begged God to cure the "thorn in my flesh." Lewis asks, "Does God then forsake just those who serve Him best? Well, He who served Him best of all said, near His tortured death, &ls;Why hast thou forsaken me?' When God becomes man, that Man, of all others, is least comforted by God, at His greatest need. There is a mystery here which, even if I had the power, I might not have the courage to explore.

Meanwhile, little people like you and me, if our prayers are sometimes granted, beyond all hope and probability, had better not draw hasty conclusions to our own advantage. If we were stronger, we might be less tenderly treated. If we were braver, we might be sent, with far less help, to defend far more desperate posts in the great battle."