Tag Archives: great faith

Lord, I Cannot Do This Alone

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, October 29, 2015

eternal life John

Lord, I Cannot Do This Alone

I am approaching the end of the Lord’s Prayer, and the end of the month of October. Appropriate and fitting that I ought to consider today’s topic. Today’s prayer is about Death and Eternity. The prayer I chose for today from The Oxford Book of Prayer deals with “For Ever and Ever” (Prayer 538, page 161) [1]

As I read through the prayers in this section, I was drawn to one particular prayer by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The notation alongside of the prayer is marked “written while awaiting execution in a Nazi prison.”

I have done extensive reading of Bonhoeffer’s writings, as well as pertinent biographical information (and two biographies). Bonhoeffer was a sincere man of great faith in the unrelenting face of evil. Most people do not know with precision exactly when they are going to die. I am afraid Bonhoeffer did. This is what he wrote.

“O God, early in the morning I cry to You. Help me to pray/And to concentrate my thoughts on You;/I cannot do this alone.” – As he neared the moment of his execution, he asked for help. He knew he was unable to walk that path alone.

“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;” These are five compare/contrast statements. I feel certain that Bonhoeffer definitely, deeply felt each of these negatives. And I am equally certain that he was infinitely glad (relieved?) that God met him and matched him with each of these positives.

“I do not understand Your ways,/But You know the way for me.” – O, Lord. Can there be any statement so truthful? So acknowledging of Your care? You know us so much better than we can possibly know ourselves.

“Restore me to liberty,/And enable me so to live now/That I may answer before You and before me./Lord, whatever this day may bring,/Your name be praised.” – I am moved beyond measure. “Restore me to liberty,” indeed! I think Bonhoeffer knew very well what that meant, for him.

Dear Lord, gracious God, enable me to come before You in grace, truth and rigorous honesty, and to truly echo Bonhoeffer’s words: that “whatever this day may bring, Your name be praised.”

@chaplaineliza

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[1] The Oxford Book of Prayer, edited by George Appleton. (New York: Oxford University Press, reissued 2009), 161.