My Soul is Silent Before God Who is My Help

The following is an excerpt from a sermon preached on 15 July 1928 by Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Barcelona, Spain.  I enjoyed it, and thought I should share it.

Our relationship with God must be practised, otherwise we shall not find the right note, the right word, the right language when He comes upon us unawares.  We have to learn the language of God, learn it with effort, we must work at it, if we too would learn to converse with Him; prayer too must be practised as part of our work.  It is a grave and fatal mistake, if one confuses religion with a heightening of the feelings.  Religion means work, and perhaps the hardest and certainly the holiest work that a man can undertake.  It is pitiable to be content with the remark ‘I am not naturally religious’, when there is a God who desires to possess us.  It is an excuse.  Certainly, some find it harder than others to do, but no one, and of this we may be sure, has achieved it without effort.  And here is the reason why being silent in God’s presence requires work and practice:  it takes daily courage to expose oneself to God’s word and to allow oneself to be judged by it, it takes daily energy to delight in God’s love.  But this brings us to the question:  What shall we do, in order to penetrate into this silence before God?  Well, about that I can only tell you, in all humility, just a little from my own experience.  Not one of us lives such a hectic life that he cannot spare the time, even if it is only ten minutes in the morning or the evening, to be still and let the silence gather round him, to stand in the presence of eternity and to let it speak, to enquire from it about our condition, and to gaze deep into himself and far out, beyond and above.  It may be done by taking up a few words from the Bible; but the best is to abandon oneself completely and let the soul find its way to its Father’s house, to its home, where it finds rest.  And whoever attempts this, working at it seriously day by day, will be overwhelmed by the riches which will flow from these hours.  Of course, all beginnings are difficult, and whoever sets out upon this undertaking will find it at first an unaccustomed experience — indeed it may be quite an empty one.  But it will not be long before his soul begins to be replenished and revitalised and to receive strength, then he begins to know the eternal quiet which rests in God’s love; stress and anxiety, hurry and restlessness, noise and clamour are stilled within him, he has become silent before God who is his help.

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One thought on “My Soul is Silent Before God Who is My Help

  1. W. Robert Baker


    This is a very good thought! I’m just now learning in my life the joy of taking time to be with Christ. Through prayer, His word, etc. It’s not that I haven’t been involved in those disciplines before; it’s just that, for me, they were indeed disciplines. Something I thought needed to be done, or was required to do.

    Recently, I have discovered how truly wonderful these times spent with the Lord can be. Now, with the discipline in tact, these times have become the most enjoyable part of my day! I only wish it had not taken all these years to learn to enjoy my personal relationship with Christ!

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