Lent with Bonhoeffer: Driven to Prayer

Thursday, March 1, 2018

“Therefore the anger of the LORD was kindled against his people, and he stretched out his hand against them and struck them, and the mountains quaked; and their corpses were as refuse in the midst of the streets. For all his anger has not turned away, and his hand is stretched out still.” (Isaiah 5:25, ESV)

When I think of you every morning and evening, I have to try very hard not to let all my thoughts dwell on the many cares and anxieties that beset you, instead of praying for you properly…. Psalm 50 says quite clearly, “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” The whole of history of the children of Israel consists of such cries for help. And I must say that the last two nights have made me face this problem again in a quite elementary way. While the bombs are falling like that all round the building, I cannot help thinking of God, his judgment, his hand stretched out, and his anger not turned away (Isaiah 5:25 & Isaiah 9:11-10:4), and of my own unpreparedness. I feel how men can make vows, and then I think of you all and say, “better me than one of them”–and that makes me realize how attached I am to you all. I won’t say anything more about it–it will have to be by word of mouth; but when all is said and done, it is true that it needs trouble to shake us up and drive us to prayer, though I feel every time that it is something to be ashamed of, as indeed it is.

-from Letters and Papers from Prison, pgs. 198-199

(This portion comes from the letter Bonhoeffer wrote from Tegel prison to his friend, Eberhard Bethge, on January 29-30, 1944.)

(These reflections from Dietrich Bonhoeffer can be found in a collection entitled A Year with Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Daily Meditations from His Letters, Writings, and Sermons. It can be purchased HERE.)

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