the screwtape emails

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TO: wormwood@tempters.net
FROM: Screwtape@hellfire.org
RE: re: prayer

So she has a prayer partner. This makes it rather hard to avoid prayer, doesn’t it? But surely you know that you can still keep her from contemplation. Since you are so inexperienced, I will let you in on some tried and true techniques: First, keep her mind on how she must sound or appear to the others who are praying with her; this way, the words she chooses will not be prompted by anything but a desire to impress or influence the others. Encourage her to use flowery (but meaningless) words, believing that they denote piety.

Second, whether she prays in a group or alone: As soon as she has requested something from God, prompt her to think about how she herself can bring about the results she desires. Before she can even get to the next supposed request, she will be secretly plotting how to change the world on her own, completely forgetting that foolish notion of trust in our Enemy’s sovereignty. For example, if she begins to pray for her relationship with a classmate whom she finds annoying, lure her into fantasizing about various things she could say to him to put him in his place. Next thing she knows, her prayer time will be cut short and she’ll be picking up the phone to call him!

Better yet, take the fact that Enemy is omnipresent, and spin it into something like: Since He can hear my very thoughts, I don’t need to have a specified prayer time, do I? This, combined with the ideal of praying without ceasing (a phrase from the Bible that she has surely heard several times in her classes already), will keep her lips quiet. Meanwhile, continue to keep her busy, busy, busy!


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