Tag Archives: Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Challenge of Morning Meditation

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, June 22, 2017

sunrise over the mountains

Challenge of Morning Meditation

I am not a morning-kind-of-a-person. Yes, I can get up early in the morning. I have served as an overnight chaplain and had to be up at all hours. However, my deep desire and dear preference is one of sleeping in my bed. Getting a full night’s sleep.

In this new chapter, Dietrich Bonhoeffer tells the seminarians (from the secret seminary) about morning meditation and prayer. He not only sings the praises of regular meditation and prayer, but he also suggests ways in which those who meditate actually reach God.

“Every morning God gives us the gift of comprehending anew his faithfulness of old; thus, in the midst of our life with God, we may daily begin a new life with him.” [1]

Bonhoeffer gave a whole list of instances and examples in the Bible where prayer and meditation are specifically mentioned as taking place in the morning. “The people of faith woke early because of their expectation of God’s marvelous acts (Gen. 19:27, Ex. 24:4, Job 1:5). Sleep no longer holds them. They rush to greet the early grace of God.” [2]

The early grace of God…why do I not sync with this? Now, the grace of God that is up late at night or in the wee hours of the morning, that I do sync with. Somehow, I have problems in waking up early in the morning for meditation and prayer.

I know so many people who write books and articles about prayer, and almost all of them recommend prayer early in the morning. I am so sorry, God. I cannot seem to do this, even occasionally.

Dear God, thanks for loving me, and being patient with me.

@chaplaineliza

 

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000), 29.

[2] Ibid.

Problems of Meditation?

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, June 19, 2017

11039153_10207108882579476_6811544607611580785_n

Problems of Meditation?

Ah, now we come to the main point of difficulty. At least, my main point of difficulty. Yes, I have prayed regularly for years, and prayed sometimes for extended periods of time. (Not half as much as I should have, for which I ask great forgiveness, Lord.) And, I have had problems with prayer and meditation for years. For decades.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer understood about problems with meditation. He was writing to seminarians, remember; a goodly portion of them probably complained and moaned when Pastor Bonhoeffer told them how long each day he expected them to pray and meditate. The first recommendation he had, when encountering great difficulties in meditation? Practice, practice, practice. Practice earnestly and for a long time.

His second recommendation applies to me, quite well. My thoughts often flit around like insects—sometimes fluttering like butterflies, but other times zooming like quite another kind of unpleasant bug. Bonhoeffer says, “If your thoughts keep wandering, there is no need for you to hold on to them compulsively.” (Thank God.) “There is nothing wrong with letting them roam where they will; but then incorporate in your prayers the place or person to which they have gone.” [1]

Yes. I’ve known that my thoughts do fly all around, for years. And, I have asked God to send my thoughts to people or situations that need prayer. That’s one way I’ve been praying, for years.

Thank God for Bonhoeffer’s suggestion! Otherwise, I would feel really guilty about my thoughts flying around all over the place, even when I sincerely try to pray and meditate.

I admit that I have the Myers-Briggs preferences of ENFP. I have read the 16 different prayers for the 16 different personality preferences, and I can relate to the one for ENFP: “God, help me to keep my mind—look! A bird!—on one thing at a time.” So, yes. I appreciate Bonhoeffer’s understanding and patience with his students. I also appreciate my God’s understanding and patience with me. (Thank You, God!)

@chaplaineliza

 

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000), 26.

How Shall We Meditate?

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, June 15, 2017

Bible with flowers, drawing

How Shall We Meditate?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer had excellent advice on prayer and meditation. His suggestions to the seminarians at Finkenwalde were so pertinent.

His depth of experience in meditation and prayer provided such substance, especially the way in which Bonhoeffer taught how to meditate and pray using Scripture. “There is free meditation and meditation that is bound to Scripture. We advise the latter for the sake of the certainty of our prayers and the discipline of our thoughts.” [1]

Bonhoeffer’s suggestion to have all the seminarians meditate on the same passage of Scripture really intrigued me. Not only were the same few verses of the Bible meant to speak to each individual’s heart and mind and spirit, but moreover, the seminarians would then have the opportunity to share with each other. They might be able to discuss the passage even further, and really chew on, or meditate over the Word of God.

He gives instruction on prayer, too, as the seminarians compose themselves for the morning time of meditation. “If during meditation our thoughts move to persons who are near to us or to those we are concerned about, then let them linger there. That is a good time to pray for them.” [2] Bonhoeffer was quite serious both about prayer for others and continued prayer for the salvation of our own souls.

His call for the power of the Holy Spirit to come upon all who meditate that day is an excellent reminder for all of us. The Holy Spirit enlightens us on a regular basis, giving us deeper insight into the text.

These few insights merely scratch the surface of prayer and meditation instruction, as far as Dietrich Bonhoeffer is concerned. (My sneaking feelings of inferiority are rising within, again. Note to self: this has got to be the result of my re-reading this superb book…)

@chaplaineliza

 

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000), 24.

[2] Ibid, 25.

Why Meditation?

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, June 11, 2017

woman in prayer, sanctuary

Why Meditation?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer must have been wonderful at meditation and prayer. He was quite devoted to it. Why did he meditate? He explained, “Because I am a Christian. Therefore, every day in which I do not penetrate more deeply into the knowledge of God’s Word in Holy Scripture is a lost day for me.” [1]

In Bonhoeffer’s mind, meditation and prayer were closely intertwined with the Word of God, the Bible. Bonhoeffer felt his calling as a minister of the Word very strongly, too. Because he was a preacher of the Word, he said, “I cannot expound the Scripture for others if I do not let it speak daily to me.” [2] Yes, meditation and introspection were tied closely to rightly dividing the Word, for Bonhoeffer. “The pastor must pray more than others, and has more to pray about.” [3]

This whole conception of Bonhoeffer’s touches me deeply. I agree with him. The Bible has amazing things to say to regular, ordinary people. I’ve felt that way for years. I have been involved with meditation and prayer (off and on) since my twenties. However, Bonhoeffer was so much more faithful than I. Every single day, and several times a day.

I wish I could be as faithful in prayer and meditation as several of my friends. I consider them real pray-ers, in the major leagues, for example. I’m only a bush league pray-er. It’s true that I am also a pastor. Bonhoeffer’s words convict me strongly. God help me, they do.

Dear Lord, thank You for Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s words and example of prayer and meditation. Help me to be more faithful. Guide me in praying regularly. Thank You for hearing my prayers and filling me with Your peace. Dear Lord, in Your mercy, hear my prayer.

@chaplaineliza

 

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000), 22.

[2] Ibid, 23.

[3] Ibid.

Difficulty with Meditation

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, June 8, 2017

sitting in pew

Difficulty with Meditation

I have difficulty with meditation sometimes. I can relate to these seminarians. But, I am getting ahead of myself.

We need to turn our attention to the Confessing Church, representatives from a number of German churches who left the national church in 1934. (The national church was following Hitler’s agenda, increasingly, throughout the 1930’s.) The leadership of the Confessing Church sent for Dietrich Bonhoeffer in 1935; he was in London at the time. The Confessing Church established a breakaway, Confessing seminary in Finkenwalde. [1]

Dietrich Bonhoeffer expected the seminarians to “devote a half-hour each morning to silent meditation on a Scripture text.” [2] This practice caused them great consternation and difficulties. They could not figure out how to make use of the time.

As I said, I can relate. It is sometimes difficult for me to meditate and pray for an extended period, at normal and usual times. I would consider half-hour stretches of time to be a longer amount of time.

The seminarians did a variety of things instead of meditation. Some would sleep, others daydreamed, still others worked on sermons, instead of meditating and praying. Bonhoeffer offered them a number of instructions on meditation and prayer, since he thought meditation was so important to seminarians as well as pastors. (I’ll include some of his suggestions for meditation and prayer here over the next number of days.)

Dear God, I know I ought to meditate on your words regularly. When I do, I almost always feel energized, sometimes relaxed, and never, ever bored. Restore to me the joy of salvation, the love of learning, the excitement of poring over the Scriptures. In Jesus’s name, the Word made flesh, Amen.

 

@chaplaineliza

 

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000), 21.

[2] Ibid, 22.

God’s Law and Meditation

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, June 3, 2017

Exod 20 ten commandments word cloud

God’s Law and Meditation

Dietrich Bonhoeffer had some fascinating words to say about the Ten Commandments. Just two paragraphs are quoted in this chapter of Meditating on the Word, but they give us a glimpse of what Bonhoeffer was thinking. “It is grace to know God’s commands,” he said.  Knowing God’s commands—God’s laws—helps us to understand conflict. What is more, God’s laws help to set us free from “self-made plans.”  Intriguing!

Of great important is the beginning of the commandments, for we are messing up that relationship in Exodus 20. “I am the LORD your God.” According to Bonhoeffer, the “I” of the commandments is the Almighty God, and we are called into intimate relationship with God.

When we break one (or more) of God’s commands, the rules are not just of human origin. Bonhoeffer reminds us that we transgress against God. We break God’s commands in our disobedience, not mere human ones, and it is serious, indeed.

If we add to the law God is certainly in charge of, we see Bonhoeffer’s amazement; God dispenses grace through the Ten Commandments, as well. The Ten Commandments ”are not detachable, as if we could  somehow separate God’s will from God Himself.” [1]

God’s grace comes to us from God’s word. This—Exodus 20—as   is as surely God’s revelation as punitive sections of the Mosaic Law as well as many of the Prophets and their writings. God is revealed with mighty power throughout this interaction.

Dear Lord, help me to understand Your abundant grace. Even in the midst of diversity. Dear God, thank You for being on our side, with grace, with love, and with Your open arms of compassion and forgiveness. In Your mercy, hear us as we pray.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000), 13.

The Psalter and Meditation

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, June 3, 2017

Psalter - Westminster_Psalter_David playing the harp. c. 1200

The Psalter and Meditation

I am such a fan of Dietrich Bonhöffer and his devotional writing. Sure, many people praise his deep theological works. (I think his theology is profound, too.) However, his attitude toward meditation and prayer reach me in a deep, profound way, internally.

I know how important reading is for those who understand “that special intimate relationship with God’s Word.” [1] In the excerpt, we discovered the repercussions for each one who is actively looking for an effective, emotional interaction.

Bonhöffer considered the Psalms as the way he became closer to God. I know how challenging this is for many, but think of something hopeful and upbeat. If anyone can get their hands on this devotional reading, it would be a worthwhile way of deepening our relationship with God.

Dear God, help me to discover more about You and Your World. Lead me in Your way and direct our path. Hear us, o Lord God where You can remind us of how valuable the meditation can be. Hear us when we pray.

@chaplaineliza

 

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000), 10.