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

Resisting the Prowling Lion – Day 18

Resisting the Prowling Lion – 40 Days with Screwtape

Day 18 – Tuesday 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’.


The Christians describe the Enemy as one ‘without whom Nothing is strong’.   And Nothing is very strong: strong enough to steal away a man’s best years not in sweet sins but in a dreary flickering of the mind over it knows not what and knows not why, in the gratification of curiosities so feeble that the man is only half aware of them, in drumming of fingers and kicking of heels, in whistling tunes that he does not like, or in the long, dim labyrinth of reveries that have not even lust or ambition to give them a relish, but which, once chance association has started them, the creature is too weak and fuddled to shake off.

You will say that these are very small sins; and doubtless, like all young 
tempters, you are anxious to be able to report spectacular wickedness.   But do remember, the only thing that matters is the extent to which you separate the man from the Enemy.   It does not matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing.   Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick.   Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.

Your affectionate uncle


To Reflect:

In the film Neverending Story the unlikely hero, Bastian, ‘travels’ to Fantasia to rescue the Childlike Empress from ‘The Nothing’ that threatens to consume all the fantastic creatures and people of that land because of an absence of belief.  A story well worth watching in full, everyone lives ‘happily ever after’ when Bastian proves his belief by giving the Empress a new name and, at story’s end conquers the bullies in his own school by chasing them whilst riding Falkor the flying Luckdragon. ‘Nothing’ when not faced down with belief gobbles up everything!

Lewis makes a play on words with the intention of the Collect from the Book of Prayer which reads:

O GOD, the protector of all that trust in thee, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy; Increase and multiply upon us thy mercy; that, thou being our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we finally lose not the things eternal: Grant this, O heavenly Father, for Jesus Christ’s sake our Lord. Amen. (Collect for the Fourth Sunday after Trinity)

‘Nothing’ when allowed to grow unchecked is indeed strong.  How many of us have found ourselves at the end of a day only to realise that that it has been full of ‘nothing’?  Not that activity for its own sake is righteous – busyness (especially busybodyness) can be just as sinful as idleness – but the gnawing away of life that happens when we give ourselves over to nothing will, as it almost did for Bastian and Fantasia, destroy our whole world.

On occasion find myself sucked into the other little sins of the tempters armoury.  The drumming of fingers, the whiling away of time (Oh Facebook and Twitter you twin cyberspace Siren Sisters!), the using up of the moments of life until we find that not just a few moments, or hours, or days even have been wasted.  In the end we take the gift of time and fritter it away.  Giving strength to nothingness instead of meaning to life and find ourselves to be full of the emptiness of ‘Nothing’.  

Michel Quoist says it perfectly, and better than I ever could in one of his prayer poems.  And so I will let his words complete this reflection:

I went out, Lord. People were coming and going, 

Walking and running.

Everything was rushing: Cars, trucks, the street, the whole town. People were rushing not to waste time. 

They were rushing after time, 

To catch up with time. 

To gain time.

Good-bye, Sir, excuse me, I haven’t time. 

I’ll come back. I can’t wait. I haven’t time. 

I must end this letter – I haven’t time. 

I’d love to help you, but I haven’t time. 

I can’t accept, having no time. 

I can’t think, I can’t read, I’m swamped, I haven’t time. 

I’d like to pray, but I haven’t time.

You understand, Lord, They simply haven’t the time. 

The child is playing, He hasn’t time right now…

Later on… 

The schoolboy has his homework to do, He hasn’t time…

Later on… 

The student has his courses, And so much work…

Later on… 

The young married man has his new house; He has to fix it up…He hasn’t time…

Later on… 

The grandparents have their grandchildren. They haven’t time…

Later on… 

They are ill, they have their treatments, They haven’t time…

Later on… 

They are dying, they have no… 

Too late!…They have no more time!

And so all people run after time, Lord. They pass through life running– Hurried, jostled, overburdened, frantic, And they never get there. They haven’t time. In spite of all their efforts They’re still short of time, Of a great deal of time. Lord, you must have made a mistake in your calculations, There is a big mistake somewhere. The hours are too short. Our lives are too short.

You who are beyond time, Lord, You smile to see us fighting it. And you know what you are doing. You make no mistakes in your distribution of time to men. You give each one time to do what you want him to do. But we must not lose time, waste time, kill time, For it is a gift that you give us, But a perishable gift, A gift that does not keep.

Lord, I have time, I have plenty of time, All the time that you give me, The years of my life, The days of my life, The days of my years, The hours of my days, They are all mine. Mine to fill, quietly, calmly, But to fill completely, up to the brim, To offer them to you, that of their insipid water You may make a rich wine Such as you made once in Cana of Galilee. I am not asking you tonight, Lord, For time to do this and then that, But for your grace to do conscientiously, In the time that you give me, What you want me to do.

(Prayers of Life – Michel Quoist)

To Do:

Without becoming obsessed about being busy with ‘stuff’ or busy with ‘nothing’……

Have a look at your diary for the rest of Lent and ensure that there is space for:


Work – paid or voluntary

Family and Friends




Note to Clergy and Church workers:  If you are busy more than three out of seven nights every week you are probably too busy.

Note to Andrew Dotchin:  remember to read your own advice. 

A Psalm To Ponder:

Psalm 101 – THE SINGLE EYE
Refrain:        Pierce our hearts with the light of your love,  our minds with the sword of your truth.
Take from us, O God, the burden of presence, 
the lie that we and our leaders are just.
Let songs of wisdom sound from our lips; 
keep self-righteousness far fro our hearts.      Refrain:
So often we pretend to be innocent, 
blameless and free of all guilt.
Open our eyes that we may see clear: 
there is no escaping pour crookedness.     Refrain:
So often we slander our neighbours, 
afraid of their class or colour or creed.
Expose to the light the projections of our minds: 
it is ourselves we should see in the mirror.     Refrain:
So often we are angry with the greedy and proud, 
the arrogant who are deaf to the cries of the poor.
Keep our eye single; give us hearts that are pure, 
lest we trample without knowing what we do.     Refrain:
So often we grumble at people with power, 
calling them deceitful and corrupt in their ways.
Humble us all whose eyes are so blurred: 
dishonest we are, we discern not the truth.     Refrain:
So often we fail to take account of our wealth, 
the power of body, possessions or talent.
May the light that shines from the eyes of the humble 
burn out the corruption to which we are blind.     Refrain:
God of truth, hold before our eyes a vision of your commonwealth, your reign of integrity and wisdom, justice and mercy.  Give to those in public life minds that are true and hearts that are compassionate.  May they be humbled by those who pass by.  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

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