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La prière d'intercession (de Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

A Christian community lives from the intercessory prayers of its members, if not, it will die...

When I pray for a brother, despite anything he has done that annoys me, I cannot condemn him nor hate him anymore. No matter how upsetting or unbearable his face is to me, he will acquire during the intercessory prayer the face of the brother for whom Christ died, the face of the forgiven sinner.

What a sense of peace can this discovery of intercession bring for a Christian: there isn't anymore any dislike, any tension or personal disagreement that, as far as we are concerned, cannot be overcome. Intercessory prayer is a purification bath where the faithful and the community must dive in daily. It is sometimes a very hard struggle with some of our brothers but the promise of victory is at the heart of intercessory prayer.

How is it possible?

It is because intercession is nothing else than the act of presenting our brother to God, trying to see him under the cross of Christ, as a sinner needing His grace. Under this perspective, whatever was appalling to me about him disappears, I see him now in all his misery, his distress and his poverty, and I take over his sins as mines, so that I cannot do anything else than pray: Lord, take care of him, according to your judgment and your mercy.…

Intercessory prayer is a service that we owe to God and to our neighbor on a daily basis. To refuse it to our neighbor is to refuse to give him the most basic Christian service par excellence.

We can also see that intercessory prayer is not some kind of general, vague thing but a very concrete act. It is a question of praying for such and such person, or a difficulty, and the more precise the intercession is, the more fertile it becomes.

"De la vie communautaire", collection "l'actualité protestante", 1947.

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