“Letters to Malcolm” Review

I can’t write about C.S. Lewis without gushing like the fanboy that I am. Of course, like all true devotees, I believe I have good reason to hold him and his writing in such high regard. Suffice it to say that Lewis has been a seminal influence on my own thinking about who God is and what a life committed to Him looks like. His words have served as signposts along the way when I had few other traveling companions.

Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer is one of the last books Lewis wrote before he passed away in 1963. It was actually published posthumously in 1964. Wikipedia describes this small volume as one of his least successful, and that, if true, is a shame, for it contains some of the best distillations of Lewis’s insight, wit, and wisdom. For so short a book, he covers an enormous amount of ground and does so, thanks to the narrative device of a correspondence between friends, in a disarmingly conversational tone. Blink twice in rapid succession, and you’re likely to miss a real gem. Needless to say, the work holds up under repeated readings.

I’ve read this book a few times over the years and re-read it now as part of my study on prayer. Every time I complete a readthrough, something different sticks with me. This time, the notion that endures is this: If we would ascend the mountain of spiritual experience, we need lots and lots of practice in the hills and valleys of normal, everyday life. Don’t think too much of the very best times of communion with God that seem to come easily; they are a gift. And don’t esteem too little the very driest times where great exertion is required; they are perhaps the times that God treasures the most as they display distinctly what we want — more of Him — even if we don’t very much feel like it.

As I said, there is much here of value. I could go on and on about it all. I think you would be better served to read it for yourself. May you be blessed when you do!

Jeff Herron

Homeschooling dad of two boys. Husband of one terrific woman. Disciple of and disciple maker for Jesus. My cup runneth over!