Thursday, April 10, 2003

Prayer and work

From Life Together (Gemeinsames Leben) by Dietrich Bonhoeffer:
In work the Christian learns to allow [herself] to be limited by the task, and thus for [her] the work becomes a remedy against the indolence and sloth of the flesh....But this can happen only where the Christian breaks through the "it" [work] to the "Thou," which is God, who bids [her] work and makes that work a means of liberation from [herself].

The work does not cease to be work; on the contrary, the hardness and rigor of labor is really sought only by the one who knows what it does for [her]. The continuing struggle with the "it" remains. But at the same time the break-through is made; the unity of prayer and work, the unity of the day is discovered....

Then from this achieved unity of the day the whole day acquires an order and a discipline. These must be sought and found in the morning prayer and in work they will be maintained. The prayer of the morning will determine the day. Wasted time, which we are ashamed of, temptations that beset us, weakness and listlessness in our work, disorder and indiscipline in our thinking and our relations with other people very frequently have their cause in neglect of the morning prayer....Decisions which our work demands will be simpler and easier when they are made, not in the fear of men, but solely in the presence of God....Our strength and energy for work increase when we have prayed God to give us the strength we need for our daily work (pp. 70, 71; emphasis mine).

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