Prayer Blog 29th March – 4th April 2015

Prayer Blog 29th March – 14th April 2015

Praying For Peace in Holy Week

A couple of weeks ago we looked at the subject of peace and the part that the Anabaptists played in what is known as the Radical Reformation: not only because of their belief in believer’s baptism but also through their pacifism. Then on Wednesday of last week we followed a section from the Anabaptist Prayer Book in our prayer meeting. I have no doubt that the Anabaptists will be mentioned again, from time to time, in this blog.

However, this week I had been thinking how, during Holy week, we reflect on Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem, riding on a donkey, as a King – come in peace! And the story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer came to mind.

Bonhoeffer was born in 1906 and served as a German Lutheran Pastor in the years prior to World War II. He was also an important theologian, of the times, and became an anti-Nazi dissident which eventually cost him his life. His life is well summed up in the title of his book, ‘The Cost of Discipleship’.

Bonhoeffer was a founder member of the ‘Confessing Church,’ in Germany, who believed that the state church had been drawn in and duped by Hitler through their nominalism which had crept in through years of liberal theology. Vocal opposition to the Nazis was a risky business and Bonhoeffer was arrested in April 1943 and imprisoned in Tegel prison having been, allegedly, associated with a plot to kill Hitler. He was later transferred to a concentration camp and was hanged, on 9th April 1945, as the Nazi regime was collapsing and only 2 weeks before the allied forces liberated the camp.[1]

Bonhoeffer often used the phrase, ‘cheap grace’, to describe any form of thinking which did not take full account of the cost of Jesus death on the Cross and the true cost of discipleship, i.e. in following Jesus. As we enter now into a week of reflection on the true cost of Jesus mission to save us from our sins, may we also wake up to the true cost of discipleship i.e. giving our all, for nothing else will do. As the old hymn says, ‘were the whole realm of nature mine that were an offering far too small; love so amazing, so divine, demands my life, my soul, my all’.

 Prayers in Time of Distress

O Lord God,
Great distress has come upon me;
my cares threaten to crush me,
and I do not know what to do.
O God, be gracious to me and help me.
Give me strength to bear witness what thou dost send,
and do not let fear rue over me;
Take a father’s care of my wife and children.

O merciful God,
forgive me all my sins that I have committed
against thee and against my fellow men.
I trust in thy grace
and commit my life wholly into thy hands.
Do with me according to thy will
and as is best for me.
Whether I live or die, I am with thee,
and thou, my God, art with me.
Lord, I wait for thy salvation
and for thy kingdom.

 (Paul Gerhardt)

(Taken from Bonhoeffer’s ‘Letters and Papers from Prison’.)

[1] Dietrich Bonhoeffer in, Wikipedia, 28.03.2015

[2] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison, ed. Eberhard Bethge (Great Britain: SCM Press, 1953), 94

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