Lost Screwtape Letters – Prayer Meetings

stone gargoyle

My dear Wormwood,

Your concerns are overblown about your patient attending prayer meetings at his local church. This is hardly a matter for concern: indeed, it has been well-known throughout our infernal regions for years that “prayer meetings” for the greatest part consist of no prayer at all – at least, only prayer that is misdirected, misinformed, and consequently ineffectual. So great and so effective have been the labour of our best propagandists over these last years: I should be surprised if a single patient present knew anything about praying at all.

In the unlikely circumstance that the assembled patients do pray – we have only to remember the words of our Enemy: “the prayers of a righteous man avail much”, and therefore the prayers of a distracted, easily upset nincompoop can avail him little or nothing. Remember the low calibre of your patient, and take heart. Who believes in miracles these days?

Still, you are quite right to take precautions against the unexpected wiles of the Enemy. By concerting your efforts with Grubnat – who, I recall, is in charge of the local minister – you will be easily able to cultivate a perfect den of iniquity amongst that gathering.

Simply start applying any of the following remedies:

  • Distraction. Drop the occasional thought into his mind about all the things he must do tomorrow: always exaggerating the importance of the urgent and the trivial. Remind him how uncomfortable his chair is – and so on.

  • Gossip. Dress up simple gossip as “prayer requests”. Stimulate the patient’s curiosity to know all about what never concerns him in the least: humans always have a weakness to rejoice over the failings of others. For the best results – insinuate a little slander: implying the incompetence, malfeasance, stupidity – or whatever you like – of various church members. We all enjoy this kind of work: but don’t press too hard at first. The best fruits take a certain time to mature.

  • Dissension. This follows easily from the proceeding: simply point out to your patient – in as lurid colours as you can – how wrong-headed the others are. Raise fears in him about what is being said about himself behind his back: as he has just been doing to them. This becomes such a fertile ground for sowing guilt – but you know all about this.

The precise needs of the moment must determine your best course. I have no doubt as to your abilities to negate entirely the potential for any foothold of the Enemy to take root inside this particular prayer meeting.

Do let me know how you get on.

Yours nefariously,



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