Today, millions of Christians in the U.S. are observing the National Day of Prayer. Many Christian churches and organizations hold prayer vigils, special prayer meetings, or other activities. Whether or not you participate in National Day of Prayer, prayer is a key part of the Christian life. No discussion of Christianity is complete without considering the power and importance of prayer.
It’s thus entirely appropriate that in his writing, the famous pastor (and martyr) Dietrich Bonhoeffer devoted a significant amount of attention to the role that prayer plays in a Christian’s everyday life. Here’s an excerpt from his devotional writing discussing the importance of intercessory prayer—that is, prayer requests that ask God to help other people.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Intercessory Prayer
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. As far as we are concerned, there is no dislike, no personal tension, no disunity or strife that cannot be overcome by intercessory prayer. Intercessory prayer is the purifying bath into which the individual and the community must enter every day. — Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Questions to Consider
- Reflect on your prayer life. Have you ever prayed for the good of anyone you were in a conflict with?
- If so, what happened as a result of your prayer? Did it change the way you thought about that person?
- If not, reflect in your journal as to whether or not you are ready to pray for the good of people who have hurt you or whom you dislike for any reason.
This reflection is drawn from A 40 Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a devotional available here on Bible Gateway both online and via email. You may also find our post about prayer during Lent worthwhile as you consider the importance of prayer.