Archive Authors E.J. Hutchinson Nota Bene

Laborare Est Orare

I was recently listening to John Webster’s Kantzer Lectures from 2007, “Perfection & Presence: God with Us, According To the Christian Confession,” and was directed to C.S. Lewis’ brief essay “Work and Prayer1 from God in the Dock.2 Leaving aside the knotty issues of sovereignty and free choice (even though this is The Calvinist International!), there are some good observations in the piece.

In the excerpt below–which, as I recall, is the one Webster quotes–Lewis compares what we are up to when working and praying:

The two methods by which we are allowed to produce events may be called work and prayer. Both are alike in this respect–that in both we try to produce a state of affairs which God has not (or at any rate not yet) seen fit to provide ‘on His own’. And from this point of view the old maxim laborare est orare (work is prayer) takes on a new meaning. What we do when we weed a field is not quite different from what we do when we pray for a good harvest.

  1. There is a slightly modified html version here.
  2. I believe the reference was in the first lecture.

By E.J. Hutchinson

E.J. Hutchinson is Assistant Professor of Classics at Hillsdale College.

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