“It made me shiver. And I about made up my mind to pray, and see if I couldn't try to quit being the kind of a boy I was and be better. So I kneeled down. But the words wouldn't come. Why wouldn't they? It warn't no use to try and hide it from Him. Nor from me, neither. I knowed very well why they wouldn't come. It was because my heart warn't right; it was because I warn't square; it was because I was playing double. I was letting on to give up sin, but away inside of me I was holding on to the biggest one of all. I was trying to make my mouth say I would do the right thing and the clean thing... but deep down in me I knowed it was a lie, and He knowed it. You can't pray a lie—I found that out.” --Huckleberry Finn
In this scene, Huck Finn has an excellent grasp of what is required for a relationship with God. Not only does he realize that a person “can't pray a lie,” but he also knows that, “I was playing double. I was letting on to give up sin, but away inside of me I was holding on to the biggest one of all” (1383). Huck is verbalizing one of the worst problems with prideful man's condition: repenting in word but not in deed. Wanting to have the cake and eat it too. Huck Finn realizes that this won't work. God requires true repentance, not a halfhearted or faked repentance. It is not surprising that Mark Twain picked up on this double-dealing by many people and embodied it in one of his most famous characters. Twain had an ever observant eye out for hypocrisy in every aspect of life. Huck eventually makes the intellectually honest decision not to pray what he doesn't feel inside. How many times, if we looked at our own lives, would we find that Huck is more honest with God about his heart's true condition than we are.
Twain, Mark. Huckleberry Finn. The Norton Anthology of America Literature. Ed. Nina Baym. Shorter 6th ed. New York: W.W. Norton, 2003. Print