#ProwlingLion · Bible Study · Church of England · Felixstowe · Growing in God · Lent · poem · Prayer · Screwtape

Resisting the Prowling Lion – Day 17

Resisting the Prowling Lion – 40 Days with Screwtape

Day 17 – Monday after 3rd Sunday of Lent

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’.


This dim uneasiness (with his faith) needs careful handling.  If it gets too strong it may wake him up and spoil the whole game.   On the other hand, if you suppress it entirely – which, by the by, the Enemy will probably not allow you to do – we lose an element in the situation which can be turned to good account.  

If such a feeling is allowed to live, but not allowed to become irresistible and flower into real repentance, it has one invaluable tendency.   It increases the patient’s reluctance to think about the Enemy.   All humans at nearly all times have some such reluctance; but when thinking of Him involves facing and intensifying a whole vague cloud of half-conscious guilt, this reluctance is increased tenfold.   

They hate every idea that suggests Him, just as men in financial embarrassment hate the very sight of a passbook.   In this state your patient will not omit, but he will increasingly dislike, his religious duties.   He will think about them as little as he feels he decently can beforehand, and forget them as soon as possible when they are over.   A few weeks ago you had to tempt him to unreality and inattention in his prayers: but now you will find him opening his arms to you and almost begging you to distract his purpose and benumb his heart.   He will want his prayers to be unreal, for he will dread nothing so much as effective contact with the Enemy.   His aim will be to let sleeping worms lie.

Your affectionate uncle


To Reflect:

It is no accident that most of the parables of the Reign of God’s love in the Gospels are about things which grow in one place; the mustard seed, the Sower, the building of a tower, the soldier called to ‘stand’ behind the whole armour of God.  Yes, there are some parables of the life of faith being like a journey – The prodigal son being the chief amongst them – but to grow in the knowledge of God’s love we mostly need to stand still and let ourselves be loved!

I am not good at this.  I am even worse at it when I am assailed by ‘a vague uneasiness that I haven’t been doing too well lately’ (see Day 16).  I know I get things wrong.  I know the only answer for sin is to spend time in the presence of the One who loves me best.  What do I do instead?  I rush my prayers, I skimp on silence, I become over-eager to give others advice and close my ears to my own counsel.

Paul puts it well in Romans does he not?

I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. (Romans 7.15-19)

How much easier it is to let sleeping worms lie?  

How much easier it is to turn devotion into duty and religion into ritual?  

How much easier it is to give God a lick and a promise and then try and go about my business?  

As if somehow God has forgotten to go alongside me, ahead of me, and protect wherever I may wander when I am at my most vague and my most uneasy?

Sometimes, perversely, I beg for a big sin – because then I have to wake up, run home, and seek forgiveness and succour in the ever welcoming bosom of God’s love.  Little worms of sin, the maggots of gentle disobedience to the royal rule of love, gnaw away at my spirit and, before I know it, there is the stench of spiritual gangrene about my life instead of that of a sweet-smelling sacrifice.

How do we overcome this problem, for I am sure that I am not alone in fighting this battle against vague uneasy sin?  Paul cries out again and then gives us the answer;

Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7.24-25)

One of the great weapons of the faith against sin is thankfulness.  

It is as we learn to be more thankful that we see how much more there is to be gained from keeping a clean heart in front of our Lord.  

It is as we learn to be more thankful that we discover what fools we have been to not spend more time actively aware of the presence of God in every corner of our lives.  

It is in thankfulness that we learn to rest and stop and stay. 

And it is in resting and stopping and staying that we finally begin to grow.

To Do:

  1. Find at least one little ‘maggot’ of sin in your life and stamp on it.  It may have a large effect on your spiritual life.
  2. Stop and say ‘thank you’ some time today.

A Psalm To Ponder:


Refrain:        From the power of guilt and pain save me and heal me, O Christ.

O God, do you rebuke me in your anger?

Do you chasten me in fierce displeasure?

Is it your arrows that pierce me, 

your hand come heavy upon me?

With no health in my flesh, do you punish me, 

in sternness of love, for my sins?     Refrain:

The tide of my wrongs sweeps over my head, 

their weight is a burden too heavy to bear.

My wounds stink and fester through folly, 

I am bowed down with grieving all the day long.

My loins are filled with a burning pain, 

there is no sound part in my flesh.

I am numbed and stricken to the ground, 

I groan in the anguish of my heart.     Refrain:

The pounding of my heart comes to your ears, 

my desire for love, my stumbling on the road.

My deep sighing is not hidden from you, 

my longing for kindness and the touch that heals.     Refrain:

My heart is in tumult, my strength fails me, 

even the light of my eyes has gone from me.

My companions draw back from my affliction, 

my kinsfolk stare afar at my sores.     Refrain:

I am like the deaf and hear nothing, 

like those whose mouths are sealed.

I have become as one who cannot hear, 

in whose mouth there is no retort.     Refrain:

I falter on the edge of the abyss, 

my pain is with me continually.

I confess my wickedness with tears, 

I shudder with sorrow for my sin.     Refrain:

Those who seek my life lay their snares, 

those who desire my hurt spread evil tales, 

murmuring slanders all the day long.

I prayed, Let them never exult over me, 

those who laugh harshly when I stumble and fall.     Refrain:

My enemies without cause are strong, 

those who hate me wrongfully are many.

Those who repay evil for good are against me, 

they blame me for what I did right.      Refrain:

But in you, O God, I have put my trust, 

and you will answer me in saving judgement.

Do not forsake me, do not go far from me; 

hasten to my help, O God of my salvation.     Refrain:

For I know you enter the heart of our anguish, 

you take to yourself the pain of the universe, 

you bear the marks of our sins, 

you endure and you still forgive.     Refrain:

It is not for our sins that we suffer, 

nor for the wrongs of our forebears.

It is that your name may be glorified, 

that in us your purpose may be known.

Your vulnerable love works without ceasing 

to draw us from despair into glory.     Refrain:

Saviour and Healer, present in the midst of our distress, forgiving our sins and relieving our suffering, enable us to deepen our trust in your Spirit at work within us, that your Love may overwhelm us with joy and your Hand guide us in the dance of freedom.   AMEN. (Jim Cotter)

Please Note:  These reflections are also published on my blog: suffolkvicarhomes.com 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 vicar@felixparish.com


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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s