Bonhoeffer on Prayer

It [intercession] is God’s most powerful means for organizing the entire church-community toward God’s own purpose; in it the church-community recognizes itself as an instrument of God’s will, and accordingly organizes itself in active obedience. That is, therefore, the point of its major thrust, and the devil is more afraid of a thatched roof under which a congregation prays, than a magnificent cathedral in which many masses are said.

In the church each one bears the other’s burden and only by recognizing that intercession is a God-given means for realizing God’s purpose can we acknowledge and practice it as meaningful. In intercession the nature of Christian love again proves to be to work ‘with’, ‘for’, and ultimately ‘in place of’ our neighbor, thereby drawing the neighbor deeper and deeper into the church-community. Thus, when one person intercedes in the name of Christ on behalf of the other, the whole church-community–which actually means ‘Christ existing as church-community’–participates in that person’s prayer.

(Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Sanctorum Communio, p. 188-189)


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