Bonhoeffer’s Prison Prayers

   This is a sweet book.  It captures many of my interests at once.  First, I appreciate Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s writings in general.  These letters and papers are especially edifying because I can see what is “behind” some of his other works, so to speak.  Second, I love reading about the tough issues: What does it mean to be a Christian (or a church) under intense pressure?  You’ll find answers to this question in this book, Letters & Papers from PrisonThird, having read many volumes of WWII history, these letters/papers fascinate me from a historical perspective. 

Here are a few of Bonhoeffer’s prayers that are quite moving, especially considering he penned them from a Nazi prison.  I recommend reading these out loud.

“In me there is darkness,
But with you there is light;
I am lonely, but you do not leave me;
I am feeble in heart, but with you there is help;
I am restless, but with you there is peace.
In me there is bitterness, but with you there is patience;
I do not understand your ways,
But you know the way for me.”

“Lord Jesus Christ,
You were poor
And in distress, a captive and forsaken as I am.
You know all man’s troubles;
You abide with me
When all men fail me;
You remember and seek me;
It is your will that I should know you
And turn to you.
Lord, I hear your call and follow;
Help me.”

 “I remember in your presence all my loved ones,
my fellow-prisoners, and all who in this house perform their hard service;
Lord, have mercy.”


shane lems

3 thoughts on “Bonhoeffer’s Prison Prayers”

  1. There’s lots of fine examples of those who were “a Christian (or a church) under intense pressure.”

    What the church struggles with today is maintaining the faith in an environment that applies no external pressure whatsoever.


  2. I will definitely have to get that book. Those prayers are so powerful. And, like you said, it would be cool to read and see how those prayers relate to his other works.


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