Praying in and with Christ or Not at All

January 16, 2013

Uppermost in Bonhoeffer’s mind on the Psalms is the idea — somewhat foreign to us — that the Psalms are now ours because they first belonged to Christ.  The pre-incarnate Christ inspired them (2 Sam 23:1; 2 Tim 3:16); Christ, while in the flesh, prayed them as his own prayers; and we understand them as pointing to Christ’s death, resurrection, and the spread of the gospel (Luke 24:44-47).

This stunning idea of course raises a question.  How exactly did Jesus pray for himself the psalms of guilt or of imprecation?  I’ll let Bonhoeffer answer those questions later this week.  But, for now, let’s get hold of the fundamental point:

All prayers of the Bible are such prayers which we pray together with Jesus Christ, in which he accompanies us, and through which he brings us into the presence of God.  Otherwise there are no true prayers, for only in and with Jesus Christ can we truly pray.

The prayers of David were prayed also by Christ.  Or better, Christ himself prayed them through his forerunner David.

It is really our prayer, but since he knows us better than we know ourselves and since he himself was true man for our sakes, it is also really his prayer, and it can become our prayer only because it was his prayer.

The Psalms are given to us to this end, that we may learn to pray them in the name of Jesus Christ.

Who prays the Psalms?  David (Solomon, Asaph, etc.) prays, Christ prays, we pray.

Bonhoeffer, Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible, 14-15, 19, 21

We pray in and with Jesus Christ or not at all.  Don’t hear that as a threat, but as a glorious invitation.  For when we pray in and with Jesus Christ, we are truly praying.

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