C.S. Lewis

Lewis on Praise

"The most obvious fact about praise whether of God or anything strangely escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honour. I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise unless (sometimes even if) shyness or the fear of boring others is deliberately brought in to check it. The world rings with praise lovers praising [each other], readers their favourite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favorite game, praise of weather, wines, dishes, actors, motors, horses, colleges, countries, historical personages, children, flowers, mountains, rare stamps, rare beetles, even sometimes politicians or scholars.

I had not noticed how the humblest, and at the same time most balanced and capacious, minds praise most, while the cranks, misfits and malcontents praise least. . . . Except where intolerably adverse circumstances interfere, praise almost seems to be inner health made audible.. . . I had not noticed either that just as men spontaneously praise whatever they value, so they spontaneously urge us to join them in praising it: 'Isn't she lovely? Wasn't it glorious? Don't you think that magnificent?' The Psalmists in telling everyone to praise God are doing what all men do when they speak of what they care about."

Chip's Thoughts:

Does your personal praise of God adequately reflect how much he means to you? Is your praise of him equal to your praise of the many comforts and delights he has offered? If you were to write a personal psalm of praise, what would it
be like?

To learn more about Chip Stam and his Worship Quote of the Week, click below.

Lewis on the Spiritual Value of Music

Today's Worship Quote by C.S. Lewis is another on issues of style as they relate to the music used in worship.

Christian Reflections
By C. S. Lewis

The first and most solid conclusion which (for me) emerges is that both musical parties, the High Brows and the Low, assume far too easily the spiritual value of the music they want. Neither the greatest excellence of a trained performance from the choir, nor the heartiest and most enthusiastic bellowing from the pews, must be taken to signify that any specifically religious activity is going on. It may be so, or it may not.

- C. S. Lewis, "On Church Music," in Christian Reflections (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1967).


Lewis, a non-singer, is obviously pushing the point that true worship is from the heart. See the first chapter of Isaiah to see what God thinks of religious observance without appropriate heart attitude.

Have a great week!

To learn more about Chip Stam and his Worship Quote of the Week, click below.

Lewis on the Efficacy of Prayer

Here we have another Worship Quote of the Week on the topic of "prayer" from C. S. Lewis.

"Prayer is either a sheer illusion or a personal contact between embryonic, incomplete persons (ourselves) and the utterly concrete Person. Prayer in the sense of petition, asking for things, is a small part of it; confession and penitence are its threshold, adoration its sanctuary, the presence and vision and enjoyment of God its bread and wine. In it God shows Himself to us. That He answers prayer is a corollary - not necessarily the most important one - from that revelation. What He does is learned from what He is."

- C. S. Lewis, "The Efficacy of Prayer," in The World's Last Night and Other Essays, 1959.

(Open Book) Quiz on the above Lewis quote:
1. Threshold of prayer = __________
2. Sanctuary of prayer = __________
3. Bread and wine of prayer = __________
4. Where can I spend some valuable time? __________

Have a great week!

To learn more about Chip Stam and his Worship Quote of the Week, click below.

Aslan as Christ the Lion

Aslan, the wonderful and terrible lion, is the "Christ" figure in C. S. Lewis' powerful allegory, The Chronicles of Narnia.

"Are you thirsty?" said the Lion.
"I'm DYING of thirst," said Jill.
"Then drink," said the Lion.
"May I – could I – would you mind going away while I do?" said Jill.
The Lion answered this only by a look and a very low growl. And as Jill gazed at its motionless bulk, she realized that she might as well have asked the whole mountain to move aside for her convenience.
The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her nearly frantic.
"Will you promise not to-do anything to me, if I come?" said Jill.
"I make no promise," said the Lion.
Jill was so thirsty now that, without noticing it, she had come a step nearer.
"Do you eat girls?" she said.
"I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms," said the Lion. It didn't say this as if it were boasting, nor as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry. It just said it.
"I daren't come and drink," said Jill.
"Then you will die of thirst," said the Lion.
"O dear!" said Jill, coming another step nearer. "I suppose I must go and look for another stream then."
"There is no other stream," said the Lion.

-C. S. Lewis, The Silver Chair, Macmillan Company, 1953.


For some reason, that dialogue reminds a bit of the conversation between Jesus and the woman at the well (John 4). I'll let you decide what the Narnia excerpt has to do with Christian worship. For hints, start with Psalm 42:1-2, John 4, and John 14:6.

Have a great week!

To learn more about Chip Stam and his Worship Quote of the Week, click below.

Lewis on Patches of Godlight

The WORSHIP QUOTE OF THE WEEK turns once again to the wisdom of C.S. Lewis.

"We – or at least I – shall not be able to adore God on the highest occasions if we have learned no habit of doing so on the lowest. At best, our faith and reason will tell us that He is adorable, but we shall not have found Him so, not have 'tasted and seen.' Any patch of sunlight in a wood will show you something about the sun which you could never get from reading books on astronomy. These pure and spontaneous pleasures are 'patches of Godlight' in the woods of experience."

- C.S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer, San Diego: Mariner, 2002.


Let's keep looking for the "patches of Godlight." Let's keep responding to the God who shines.  (John 1)

Have a great week!

To find out more about Chip Stam and his Worship Quote of the Week, click below.

Lewis on Shoes You Don't Notice

A good shoe is a shoe you don't notice. . . . The perfect church service would be one we were almost unaware of; our attention would have been on God. But every novelty prevents this. It fixes our attention on the service itself; and thinking about worship is a different thing from worshipping. . . . I can make do with almost any kind of service whatever, if only it will stay put. But if each form is snatched away just when I am beginning to feel at home in it, then I can never make any progress in the art of worship.

- C. S. Lewis, LETTERS TO MALCOLM: CHIEFLY ON PRAYER, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1964. As quoted in AUTHENTIC WORSHIP IN A CHANGING CULTURE, by the seven-member Worship Study Committee for the 1997 Synod of the Christian Reformed Church, CRC Publications, 1997. For information, call 1-800-333-8300.


Today's quote is one that will please some of you and trouble or challenge others. It has to do with CHANGE. How comfortable are you with change? What if it means a change in your church's worship practice? What do you think? Is change unsettling or refreshing?

Have a great week.

(Originally posted on 8/4/1998)

To find out more about Chip Stam and his Worship Quote of the Week, click below. 

Lewis on Prayer

By C. S. Lewis, C.S. Lewis

Master, they say that when I seem
To be in speech with you,
Since you make no replies, it's all a dream
-One talker aping two.

They are half right, but not as they
Imagine; rather, I
Seek in myself the things I meant to say,
And lo! the wells are dry.

Then, seeing me empty, you forsake
The listener's role, and through
My dead lips breathe and into utterance wake
The thoughts I never knew.

And thus you neither need reply
Nor can; thus while we seem
Two talking, thou art One forever, and I
No dreamer, but thy dream.

- C.S. Lewis, "Prayer," from POEMS, edited by Walter Hooper, Harcourt Brace
Jovanovich, 1964.


If I am committed to a life of prayer, I certainly can't always wait around until I have all the right words (or even the right ideas) ready to launch into appropriate praise and petition. No, sometimes I have to believe that the Holy Spirit will direct my prayer according to the will of God. See Romans 8:26-27 for a little Tuesday morning prayer life encouragement.

Have a great week.

(Originally posted on 10/1/1996)

To find out more about Chip Stam and his Worship Quote of the Week, click below. 

Lewis on Approaching God

Authentic Christian worship seems to require a balance between acknowledging God's awesome, matchless power, and believing in and responding to his intimate and personal care for his people. He is transcendent and he is immanent. He is "totally other" and yet he created us in his image and said "I am with you always." Today's WORSHIP QUOTE is a short sentence from C. S. Lewis.

Man approaches God most nearly when he is in one sense least like God. For what can be more unlike than fullness and need, sovereignty and humility, righteousness and penitence, limitless power and cry for help?

C. S. Lewis from THE FOUR LOVES, Collins/Fontana Books, 1963, p. 9.


This is highly recommended reading. Lewis examines four Greek words for "love" - affection, friendship, eros, and charity (God's gift-love).

Have a great week.

(Originally posted 10/3/2000)

To find out more about Chip Stam and his Worship Quote of the Week, click below.

The Four Loves
By C. S. Lewis

Lewis on Solitary Conceit

Once again the WORSHIP QUOTE OF THE WEEK is from the writings of C. S. Lewis, this time on the subject of Christian deference and worship wars. That's right, ours is not the first generation in which Christians have struggled over style issues as they relate to the music used in worship.

"When I first became a Christian, about fourteen years ago, I thought that I could do it on my own, by retiring to my rooms and reading theology, and wouldn't go to the churches and Gospel Halls; . . . . I disliked very much their hymns which I considered to be fifth-rate poems set to sixth-rate music. But as I went on I saw the merit of it. I came up against different people of quite different outlooks and different education, and then gradually my conceit just began peeling off. I realized that the hymns (which were just sixth-rate music) were, nevertheless, being sung with devotion and benefit by an old saint in elastic-side boots in the opposite pew, and then you realize that you aren't fit to clean those boots. It gets you out of your solitary conceit."

C.S. Lewis, "Answers to Questions on Christianity" from GOD IN THE DOCK: ESSAYS ON THEOLGY AND ETHICS, Eerdmans, 1970.


In another place, Lewis writes, " . . . good taste in poetry or music are not necessary to salvation."
Lord, give us grace to major on the majors. Forgive our "solitary conceit."

Have a great week.

(Originally posted 8/13/1996)

To find out more about Chip Stam and his Worship Quote of the Week, click below. 

Lewis on God as Pure Spirit


For today's WORSHIP QUOTE OF THE WEEK we have a few lines from C. S. Lewis's PERELANDRA, the second book in his celebrated space trilogy.

"Didn't we agree that God is a spirit? Don't you worship Him because He is pure spirit?'"

"Good heavens, no! We worship Him because He is wise and good. There's nothing specially fine about being a spirit. The Devil is a spirit."

- C. S. Lewis, PERELANDRA, Macmillan Company, 1944


Highly recommended for late-summer reading! Start with the first book in the trilogy, OUT OF THE SILENT PLANET.

Have a great week.

(Originally posted 8/12/1997.)

To find out more about Chip Stam and his Worship Quote of the Week, click below.