C.S. Lewis on Prayer in God’s Foreknowledge

TO MISS BRECKENRIDGE: On the problem in prayer of God’s foreknowledge; and on the Fall and evolution.

1 August 1949

Don’t bother about the idea that God ‘has known for millions of years exactly what you are about to pray’. That isn’t what it’s like. God is hearing you now, just as simply as a mother hears a child. The difference His timelessness makes is that this now (which slips away from you even as you say the word now) is for Him infinite. If you must think of His timelessness at all, don’t think of Him having looked forward to this moment for millions of years: think that to Him you are always praying this prayer. But there’s really no need to bring it in. You have gone into the Temple (‘one day in Thy court is better than a thousand’ [Psalm 84:10]) and found Him, as always, there. That is all you need to bother about.

Most folks aren’t so analytical as to worry about how prayer relates to God’s foreknowledge. But I’ve theologized, philosophized, and hypothized about this non-issue for years, and Lewis’ explanation is one of the best out there.

Like sand in an hourglass …

God’s timelessness in no way restricts him to eternity or time; to him, it’s all irrelevant. God simply is. To him, time’s hour-glass sand doesn’t dribble down, it’s all over the place, as if it’s been smashed. Of course he knows and understands our temporal barriers, ’cause he created them. And not understanding all of God’s dynamics doesn’t bother me in the least; if he wanted me to he’d have revealed it to me. But, that won’t happen because my pea-brain couldn’t hold it all. Not even Einstein’s powerful brain could.

So, if you wound up on this post because you’re concerned about all that, you won’t get those answers here — or anywhere else. If anyone claims to have figured it out, avoid them! They may be dangerous.


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