If we focus on knowing Christ in the midst of our need, Christ supplies us with Himself—and our needs are met. There is no better illustration of this truth than the life and teaching of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. His teaching on its own is profound. He took up a calling to lead a secret seminary in Germany and became the founder of the “confessing church,” a group that held to classic Christianity but did not endorse the state church and its tacit approval of the government.
On Sunday, April 5, 1945, just before the fall of the Nazi regime, after conducting a service of worship, he was taken out and executed—a man who believed in Christ and the call to love.
His final thoughts were reduced into a poem and turned into a hymn about three realities: humans, overwhelmed by sin, turning to God and finding in Him “bread for the soul”; God in search of us in Christ, dying for us on the cross; and finally, God redeeming us, giving us forgiven life, Christ Himself being the bread we need. Take a moment to reflect on and pray through this hymn:
Men go to God when they are sorely placed.
Pray Him for succor, for His peace, for bread.
For mercy, for them sinning, sick or dead.
All men do so in faith or unbelief.
Men go to God when He is sorely placed
Find Him poor, scorned, unsheltered without bread,
Whelmed under weight of evil, sick, or dead.
Christians stand by God in His hour of grief.
God goes to man when he is sorely placed.
Body and spirit feeds He with His bread.
For every man, He as a man hangs dead.
Forgiven life, He gives us through His death.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 1906-1945 (versified by rev. Walter Farquharson)
–Adapted from Power Praying (Hearing Jesus’ Spirit by Praying Jesus’ Prayer) by David Chotka
Lord Jesus, You are the only Bread I need! You have forgiven me and redeemed my life from the pit. Give me the courage of Bonhoeffer, that I may proclaim Your Name even in the face of persecution or ridicule. May I remember daily the sacrifice You made on my behalf.
Praise God for the fact that he has revealed himself to mere mortals. Give thanks that the Lord has spoken plainly about himself and his will in his Word, which is a lamp to your feet and a light for your path (Ps. 119:105). Confess any failures in seeking the teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness that come from the inspired Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:16). Commit yourself to being “thoroughly equipped for every good work” (3:17). Ask God to do good works through you.
Thank God for faithful teachers in the church. Pray that they will be encouraged by the Spirit to communicate life-changing truths.
—Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend.