Thoughts on Prayer – Bonhoeffer’s Life Together (Walking with the Saints)

There are many more fantastic passages from Bonhoeffer’s classic on Christian community, Life Together, that I want to share.  Here are a few on prayer:

“As good and useful as our scruples may be about keeping our prayer pure and biblical, they must nevertheless not stifle the free prayer itself that is so necessary, for it has been endowed with great promise by Jesus Christ.” Bonhoeffer, Dietrich (2004-12-08). Life Together and Prayerbook of the Bible: 5 (Kindle Locations 1394-1395). Fortress Press. Kindle Edition.

“As helpful as the church’s tradition of prayer is for learning how to pray, nevertheless it cannot take the place of the prayer that I owe to my God today. Here the poorest stammering can be better than the best-phrased prayer. It goes without saying that the state of affairs in public worship services is different from the daily worship of the community living together.” Bonhoeffer, Dietrich (2004-12-08). Life Together and Prayerbook of the Bible: 5 (Kindle Locations 1428-1430). Fortress Press. Kindle Edition.

It is easy to pick on people for how they pray, especially when the word “just” is said every three words.  There is certainly growth that can be had in prayer, as we learn to pray.  That said, there is a simple beauty in people praying from the heart which some of us may miss if we are overly concerned with the prayer being theologically accurate.

The persons assigned to pray for the community should learn what it means to have a duty to perform in the congregation even at a time when they would like to avoid this task because they are weighed down by inner emptiness and weariness or by personal guilt. The other members of the community should support them in their weakness, in their inability to pray. Perhaps then the words of Paul will come true: “We do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words” (Rom. 8: 26). 49″ Bonhoeffer, Dietrich (2004-12-08). Life Together and Prayerbook of the Bible: 5 (Kindle Locations 1420-1424). Fortress Press. Kindle Edition.

Prayer means nothing else but the readiness to appropriate the Word, and what is more, to let it speak to me in my personal situation, in my particular tasks, decisions, sins, and temptations. What can never enter the prayer of the community may here silently be made known to God. On the basis of the words of Scripture we pray that God may throw light on our day, preserve us from sin, and enable us to grow in holiness, and that we may be faithful in our work and have the strength to do it. And we may be certain that our prayer will be heard because it issues from God’s Word and promise.” Bonhoeffer, Dietrich (2004-12-08). Life Together and Prayerbook of the Bible: 5 (Kindle Locations 1914-1918). Fortress Press. Kindle Edition.

Prayer and scripture go hand-in-hand.  We learn from scripture and the words shape how we pray.

After writing this, I feel like I should go pray…

A Christian community either lives by the intercessory prayers of its members for one another, or the community will be destroyed. I can no longer condemn or hate other Christians for whom I pray, no matter how much trouble they cause me. In intercessory prayer the face that may have been strange and intolerable to me is transformed into the face of one for whom Christ died, the face of a pardoned sinner. That is a blessed discovery for the Christian who is beginning to offer intercessory prayer for others.

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich (2004-12-08). Life Together and Prayerbook of the Bible: 5 (Kindle Locations 1929-1932). Fortress Press. Kindle Edition.

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The Three Musketeers – Review

I recall a time, either in 7th or 8th grade, when we had to write a story for class that would then be critiqued by our fellow students.  The reason I recall this particular case is that my peers said that my story included too much dialogue without the words “he said” or “she said”.  I remember being told that every time a character speaks, I ought to include who said it.

In other words, this:

I ate lunch,” Dave said.

Not this:

“I ate lunch.”

My argument was that in a two-person dialogue it could be expected that every-other line was by each person.  So it is not necessary, every single time, to remind who is speaking.  In such a situation as this, it ought to be assumed who says the third line:

“I ate lunch,” Dave said.

“What did you have,” Emily asked.

“Ham and cheese sandwich.”

Clearly, Dave is speaking the third line.  But as I recall, my peers said I needed to specifically say who spoke the line.  I was shot down, I think even by the teacher.

I am happy to know that Alexander Dumas, the great French novelist, would have failed this assignment too.  Where I might include 2-4 lines of dialogue with no specification of who said it, assuming the reader can remember back a paragraph or two, Dumas often has page after page of dialogue.  There were times I forgot who was talking.

All that to say, I feel vindicated all these years later.  The fact I remember this must mean I have been scarred by it for decades.

Anyway, the point is, I read The Three Musketeers!  It is a classic and I mostly enjoyed it.  Though I did find each of the main four characters unlikable at times.  D’Artagnan, the hero, at one point goes into the dark bedroom of Milady, the villain.  She thinks he is her lover and has sex with him.  He knowingly deceives her.  When she finds out he basically raped her, she wants to kill him.  Yet she is the villain?  D’Artagnan comes across, throughout the story, as kind of a jerk.

I found it hard to admire any of the main characters – they have affairs with married people and waste money when they stumble into it, to name a few things.  With friends like these, who needs enemies?

Overall it is still a great story, a true classic.  I enjoyed it thoroughly and recommend it to any reader.  Just make sure to take close notes of who is speaking the dialogue!

What to do with a beet?

Before two years ago, I knew two things about beets:

1. They were the main ingredient in something called “Red Beet Eggs“.  My family often had these around when I was growing up and I never tried them as they looked awful.

2. Dwight Schrute farmed them on The Office.

Then Emily and I joined a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and began getting beets on a somewhat regular basis.  Now we had to figure out what to do with these hard red root veggies.  The first question is: how do you make them soft?

A little research showed there are two basic ways to soften the beets.  You can wrap them in aluminum foil with a little oil and roast them in the oven, or you can boil them in water.  Either way, once they are done (stick a fork in!) you wait till they are cool and peel the skin off.  A third way to do this is to use a peeler to peel the skin off while they are hard.  Depending which way you plan to eat them, you may want to soften them in different ways.

Now you’ve got your beet and you want to eat it.  What do you do?

1. Roasted Beets n’ Sweets

This recipe makes for a delicious side dish along with some sort of steak or chicken.  It could be a main dish too.  Emily and I have had this many times already.

2. Beet Salad with Pears and Goat Cheese

I like this the first day, but it is not as good as leftovers.  The trick is to keep everything in separate dishes: the pears, beets, cheese, dressing – and let each person mix it together in their own bowl.

3. Beet Muffins

Emily is not a fan of these, but I am.  Not only are they tasty muffins that make a good breakfast or snack, they are at least somewhat healthy due to the inclusion of our friend, the beet!

Do you have any beet recipes you enjoy?

PS: Don’t throw out the beet greens, they can be eaten too!

Walking with the Saints – Jesus – Life Together

Some great quotes from Bonhoeffer’s fantastic book Life Together on Jesus.  I find both these quotes both incredibly challenging and relevant.

God’s presence and help have been demonstrated for us in the life of Jesus Christ. It is in fact more important for us to know what God did to Israel, in God’s son Jesus Christ, than to discover what God intends for us today. The fact that Jesus Christ died is more important than the fact that I will die. And the fact that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead is the sole ground of my hope that I, too, will be raised on the day of judgment. Our salvation is “from outside ourselves” I find salvation not in my life story, but only in the story of Jesus Christ. Only those who allow themselves to be found in Jesus Christ— in the incarnation, cross, and resurrection— are with God and God with them.

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich (2004-12-08). Life Together and Prayerbook of the Bible: 5 (Kindle Locations 1271-1276). Fortress Press. Kindle Edition.

How often do we hear innumerable arguments “from life” and “from experience” to justify the most crucial decisions? Yet the evidence of Scripture is excluded even though it would perhaps point in exactly the opposite direction. It is not surprising, of course, that those who attempt to discredit the evidence of Scripture are the people who themselves do not seriously read, know, or make a thorough study of the Scriptures. But those who are not willing to learn how to deal with the Scriptures for themselves are not Protestant Christians.

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich (2004-12-08). Life Together and Prayerbook of the Bible: 5 (Kindle Locations 1285-1289). Fortress Press. Kindle Edition.