by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a key leader in the
Confessing Church in Germany during the 1930s-40s. He very quickly recognised
the evils of the Nazi regime and refused to compromise with its ideology. In
April 1943 he was arrested and imprisoned, and he was finally executed in April
1945, weeks before the end of the Second World War. His writings are highly
valued and respected, not least the collection of his Letters and Papers
from Prison which give a very personal insight into the faith and character
of this remarkable man of God. The prayer below was written as part of a
collection of ‘Prayers for Fellow-Prisoners’ at Christmas 1943.
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.
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.
O heavenly Father,
I praise and thank you
For rest in the night;
I praise and thank you for this new day;
I praise and thank you for all your goodness
and faithfulness throughout my life.
You have granted me many blessings;
Now let me also accept what is hard
from your hand.
You will lay on me no more
than I can bear.
You make all things work together for good
For your children.
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;
O Holy Spirit,
Give me the faith that will protect me
from despair, from passions, and from vice;
Give me such love for God and men
as will blot out all hatred and bitterness;
Give me the hope that will deliver me
from fear and faint-heartedness.
O holy and merciful God,
my Creator and Redeemer,
my Judge and Saviour,
You know me and all that I do.
You hate and punish evil without respect of persons
in this world and the next;
You forgive the sins of those
who sincerely pray for forgiveness;
You love goodness, and reward it on this earth
with a clear conscience,
and, in the world to come,
with a crown of righteousness.
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.
Restore me to liberty,
and enable me so to live now
that I may answer before you and before men.
Lord, whatever this day may bring,
Your name be praised.
Source: Bethge, E. (eds.) (1953) Dietrich Bonhoeffer Letters and Papers from Prison: An Abridged Edition. London: SCM Press Ltd