Lent with Bonhoeffer: Christ as Word

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Christ the Word is truth. There is no truth apart from the Word and by the Word. Spirit is originally word and speech, not power, feeling or act. ‘In the beginning was the Word…and all things were made through the Word’ (John 1:1,3). Only as Word is the Spirit also power and act. God’s Word creates and destroys. ‘The Word of God is…sharper than a two-edged sword, piercing to the division’ (Hebrews 4:12). God’s Word carries the destroying lightning and the life-giving rain. As Word, it destroys and it creates the truth.

It is playing games to ask whether God is able to reveal himself in any other way than through the Word. Of course God has the freedom to reveal himself in other ways than we know. But God has revealed himself in the Word. He has bound himself to the Word that he might speak to men. He does not alter this Word.

-from Christ the Center, pg. 49

Lent with Bonhoeffer: A Great Need to Pray


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

There are many helps for special difficulties that each one may use. Read the same passage again and again, write down your thoughts, learn the verse by heart (indeed, you will memorize any text that has been thoroughly meditated upon). But in all this we soon learn to recognize the danger of fleeing once again from meditation to Bible scholarship or the like. Behind all our uncertainties and needs stands our great need to pray; for all too long many of us have known this need without finding any help or direction. The only help is to faithfully and patiently begin again our earliest exercises of prayer and meditation. We will be further helped by the knowledge that other brothers are also meditating, that at all times the entire holy church in heaven and on earth prays with us. That is a comfort to us in the weakness of our own prayers. And if we really do not know what we ought to pray and completely lose heart about it, we still know that the Holy Spirit prays for us with “groanings which cannot be uttered” (Romans 8:26).

We dare not allow ourselves to cease from this daily engagement with the Scripture, and we must begin it right away if it is not now our practice. For in doing so we have eternal life.

-from Meditating on the Word, pg. 27

Lent with Bonhoeffer: Patient in Prayer


Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Whoever seriously undertakes the daily practice of meditation will soon discover great difficulties. Meditation and prayer must be practiced earnestly and for a long time. So the first rule is not to become impatient with yourself. Do not become confused and upset because of your distractedness. Just sit down again everyday and wait very patiently. If your thoughts keep wandering, there is no need for you to hold onto them compulsively. There is nothing wrong with letting them roam where they will; but then incorporate in your prayers the place or person to which they have gone. So you will find your way back to your text, and the minutes spent in such diversions will not be lost and will no longer be any cause for worry.

-from Meditating on the Word, pgs. 26-27

Lent with Bonhoeffer: Praying for Others


Fifth Sunday in Lent, March 18, 2018

If during meditation our thoughts move to persons who are near to us or to those we are concerned about, then let them linger there. That is a good time to pray for them. Do not pray in general, then, but in particular for the people who are on your mind. Let the Word of Scripture tell you what you ought to pray for them. As a help, we may write down the names of the people we want to remember every day. Our intercessions require their appointed time, too, if we are to be serious about them. Pay attention, though, that our intercessions do not become another means of taking flight from the most important thing: prayer for our own soul’s salvation.

-from Meditating on the Word, pg. 25

Lent with Bonhoeffer: Fellowship of Meditation


Saturday, March 17, 2018

There is free meditation and meditation that is bound to Scripture. We advise the latter for the sake of the certainty of our prayers and the discipline of our thoughts. Furthermore, the knowledge of our fellowship with others who are meditating on the same text will make us love such meditation more.

In the same way that the word of a person who is dear to us follows us throughout the day, so the Word of Scripture should resonate and work within us ceaselessly. Just as you would not dissect and analyze the word spoken by someone dear to you, but would accept it just as it was said, so you should accept the Word of Scripture and ponder it in your heart as Mary did. That is all. That is meditation. Do not look for new thoughts and interconnections in the text as you would in a sermon! Do not ask how you should tell it to others, but ask what it tells you! Then ponder this Word in your heart at length, until it is entirely within you and has taken possession of you.

-from Meditating on the Word, pgs. 24-25

Lent with Bonhoeffer: Help Against Ungodly Haste and Unrest


Friday, March 16, 2018

We meditate because we need help against ungodly haste and unrest. Only from the peace of God’s Word can there flow the proper, devoted service of each day. We want in any case to rise up from our meditation in a different state from when we sat down. We want to meet Christ in his Word. We turn to the text in our desire to hear what it is that he wants to give us and teach us today through his Word. Meet him first in the day, before you meet other people. Every morning lay upon him everything that preoccupies you and weighs you down, before new burdens are laid upon you. Ask yourself what still hinders you from following him completely and let him take charge of that, before new hindrances are placed in your way. His fellowship, his help, his guidance for the day through his Word–that is the goal. Thus you will begin the day freshly strengthened in your faith.

-from Meditating on the Word, pgs. 23-24

Lent with Bonhoeffer: Discipline of Prayer


Thursday, March 15, 2018

We meditate because we need a firm discipline of prayer. We like to pray according to our moods–briefly, at length, or not at all. But that is to be arbitrary. Prayer is not a free-will offering to God; it is an obligatory service, something that He requires. We are not free to engage in it according to our own wishes. Prayer is the first divine service in the day. God requires that we take time for this service. “Early in the morning I cry out to you, for in your word is my trust. My eyes are open in the night watches, that I may meditate upon your promise” (Psalm 119:147-148). “Seven times a day do I praise you, because of your righteous judgments” (Psalm 119:164). God needed time before he came to us in Christ for our salvation. He needs time before he comes into our heart for our salvation.

-from Meditating on the Word, pg. 23

Lent with Bonhoeffer: We Meditate Because We Proclaim the Gospel


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

We meditate because we are proclaimers of the Gospel. We cannot expound the Scripture for others if we do not let it speak daily to us. We will misuse the Word in our office as proclaimer of the Gospel if we do not continue to meditate upon it in prayer. If the Word has become empty for us in our daily administrations, if we no longer experience it, that proves we have not let the Word speak personally to us for a long time. We will offend against our calling if we do not seek each day in prayer the Word that our Lord wants to say to us for that day. Proclaimers of the Word are especially called upon to perform the office of prayer: “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word” (Acts 6:4).

-from Meditating on the Word, pg. 23

Lent with Bonhoeffer: We Meditate Because We are Christians


Tuesday, March 13, 2018

We meditate because we are Christians. Therefore, every day in which we do not penetrate more deeply into the knowledge of God’s Word in Holy Scripture is a lost day for us. We can only move forward with certainty upon the firm ground of the Word of God. And, as a Christian, we learn to know the Holy Scripture in no other way than by hearing the word preached and by prayerful meditation.

-from Meditating on the Word, pg. 22