Sunday, August 22, 2010
Article: Who Is Praying?
Who Is Praying? by C.S. Lewis. Source link here.
The moment of prayer is for me—or involves for me as its condition—the awareness, the reawakened awareness, that this "real world" and real self" are very far from being rock bottom realities. I cannot, in the flesh, leave the stage, either to go behind the scenes or to take my seat in the pit; but I can remember that these regions exist. And I also remember that my apparent self—this clown or hero or super—under his greasepaint is a real person with an offstage life. The dramatic person could not tread the stage unless he concealed a real person: unless the real and unknown I existed, I would not even make mistakes about the imagined one. And in prayer this real I struggle to speak, for once from his real being, and to address, for once, not the other actors, but—what shall I call Him? The Author, for He invented us all? The Producer, for He controls all? Or the Audience, for He watches, and will judge the performance?
The attempt is not to escape from space and time and from my creaturely situation as a subject facing objects. It is more modest: to re-awaken the awareness of that situation. If that can be done, there is no need to go anywhere else. This situation itself is, at every moment, a possible theophany, Here is the holy ground; the Bush is burning now.
Of course this attempt may be attended with almost every degree of success or failure. The prayer preceding all prayers is "May it be the real I who speaks. May it be the real Thou that I speak to." Infinitely various are the levels from which we pray. Emotional intensity is in itself no proof of spiritual depth. If we pray in terror we shall pray earnestly; it only proves that terror is an earnest emotion. Only God Himself can let the bucket down to the depths in us. And, on the other side, He must constantly work as the iconoclast. Every idea of Him we form, He must in mercy shatter. The most blessed result of prayer would be to rise thinking "But I never knew before. I never dreamed…." I suppose it was at such a moment that Thomas Aquinas said of all his own theology, "It reminds me of straw."