Bible Study · Church of England · Felixstowe · Lent · Prayer · Screwtape

Resisting the Prowling Lion – Day 1 – Ash Wednesday

Resisting the Prowling Lion – 40 Days with Screwtape

Day 1 – Ash Wednesday

To Read:

From The Screwtape Letters:

Screwtape, a senior demon, is offering advice to Wormwood his nephew, an apprentice demon.  The language he uses is ‘upside down’ referring to God as ‘the Enemy’ and the devil as ‘Our Father Below’.


Keep his mind on the inner life.   He thinks his conversion is something inside him and his attention is therefore chiefly turned at present to the states of his own mind – or rather to that very expurgated version of them which is all you should allow him to see.   Encourage this.   Keep his mind off the most elementary duties by directing it to the most advanced and spiritual ones.   Aggravate that most useful human characteristic, the horror and neglect of the obvious.   You must bring him to a condition in which he can practise self-examination for an hour without discovering any of those facts about himself, which are perfectly clear to anyone who has ever lived in the same house with him or worked the same office.

Your affectionate uncle 


To Reflect:

At the beginning of Lent it is easy, for the first week or so at least, to identify and avoid the temptations which face us in the journey ahead.

On Sunday we will hear how Christ faces down the devil with the words of Scripture and be encouraged that we too can imitate Him and be able to chase the devil away… until an opportune time that is!

It seems to make sense then that the first four pieces of the Screwtape correspondence to look at are those where the wily old demon gives advice on ‘leading into temptation’.

The first temptation which is faced by Wormwood’s ‘patient’ is the temptation to piety.  Did you feel it yourself as you prepared for Lent?  I know I do.  Each year as Shrove Tuesday approaches I seem to run out of time for spiritual preparation and run headlong into committing myself to extra prayer, extra bible reading, extra times of quiet, extra moments in the pages of my journal and, if I’m not careful, plan such a ‘spiritual’ Lent, that everyone around me rejoices when Easter arrives so that they can finally have their vicar, father, husband, friend back to normal!

At the beginning of Lent the temptation to an over-internalised piety is great. 

Yes, we must spend more time than we normally do turning the pages of the Scriptures and in the solitude of prayer.  However if this is at the expense of engagement with the world which Christ came to save we have fallen at the first of Screwtape’s hurdles.

In all our devotions we must find balance.  There is no purpose in seeking the Gifts of the Spirit in our personal piety if those around us cannot harvest the Fruits of the Spirit from our devotions…..

To Do:

Look at all you have chosen to attempt to do this Lent.

For every ‘interior’ discipline you want to perform make sure it is balanced by an ‘exterior’ act of charity.

A Psalm To Ponder:


Refrain:        The end is in the midst of the journey: the fulfilment is beyond our imagining

How lovely are your dwellings, O God,

how beautiful are the holy places.

In the days of my pilgrimage I yearn for them:

they are temples of your living presence.

I have a desire and longing to enter my true home:

my heart and my flesh rejoice in the living God     Refrain:

For the sparrow has found a house for herself,

and the swallow a nest to lay her young.

Even so are those who dwell in your house –

They will always be praising you

And your Spirit makes a home deep within us:

let us welcome and delight in your Presence.     Refrain:

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,

in whose heart are your ways,

who, trudging through the plains of misery,

find in them an unexpected spring,

a well from deep below the barren ground,

and the pools are filled with water.     Refrain:

They become springs of healing for others,

reservoirs of compassion for those who are bruised.

Strengthened themselves they lend courage to others,

and God will be there at the end of their journey.     Refrain:

One day lived in your presence

is better than a thousand in my own dwelling.

I had rather beg in in the burning sun

on the threshold of the house of my God

than sit in cool courtyards

of luxury and worldly success.     Refrain:

For you are my light and my shield,

you will give me your grace and your glory.

You are ready with bountiful gifts,

overflowing to those who follow you.     

Living God of love,

blessed are those who put their trust in you.     Refrain:

O God of the desert pilgrims, we who are wearied by monotonous days in the sun, who are battered by the monstrous whirling winds, surprise us yet with a monstrance of wonder, a revelation of love, an oasis of refreshment, a taste of the harvest, a moment of grace.  AMEN.

(Jim Cotter)

Please Note:  These reflections are also published on my blog: on Twitter as @SuffolkVicar, and on my public Facebook page Rev Andrew Dotchin

If you would like them as a daily email please send a request to


Quotes from The Screwtape Letters are copyright © 1942 C.S. Lewis Pte

Prayers from Psalms for a Pilgrim People are copyright © 1989, 1991, 1993 Jim Cotter

Scripture quotations are copyright © New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

These Reflections,  ‘Resisting the Prowling Lion’ are copyright © Andrew Dotchin 2023

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