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Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible

4.31 of 5 stars 4.31  ·  rating details  ·  370 ratings  ·  45 reviews
In this beautiful little book, Bonhoeffer guides the Christian to the Scriptures for lessons in how to pray. He affirms that the Lord's Prayer is the primary prayer of the Christian, which he asserts contains every prayer that a Christian ought to pray. Bonhoeffer also makes a startling but wise claim that jolts us out of the narrowness of our focus in prayer: "The richnes ...more
Paperback, 88 pages
Published January 1st 1974 by Augsburg Books (first published January 1st 1959)
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This work is one of Bonhoeffer’s great but oft overlooked contributions to Christian devotional literature. Many works have been written on prayer and call readers to greater prayer lives, but few succeed in offering a true methodology for doing so that is not mundane, legalistic, or self-centered. Bonhoeffer, ever the man of prayer, offers a unique method of approaching the throne of grace that empowers fresh, grace-filled, and God-centered prayers. Bonhoeffer’s solution is not complex or myste ...more
Such a short book with a long lasting impact. I have always thought of Psalms as songs unto the Lord however, Psalms are the basis of the Lord's Prayer. Many times Jesus quoting a psalm in prayer. Which makes perfect sense with the Sela in many Psalms. Sela indicates that one must be still and quickly think through the words of the Psalm, to quiet the heart, and to know the greatness and goodness of the Lord.
Jan 26, 2014 Paul marked it as assorted-rants-about-stuff  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: god-botheration
Here are fifty of my favourite religious songs. Just because I'm a terrible atheist doesn't mean I can't be moved by these beautiful pieces. I made this list some time ago, not for GR, but here it is anyway. I hope the links still work.

1. Antioch : Henagar Union Sacred Harp Convention

2. What’s his Name? : The Campbell Brothers
3. Down in the River to pray : Alison Krauss

4. Govi
This small book is probably the best simple introduction to the Psalter, what it is and why it should be prayed/sung. Between this book and Life Together, Bonhoeffer has nailed practical doxology.
Edgar Soltero-flores
I had a year or so prior to reading this book taken up singing psalms. I had found the Scottish Psalter online, after having read a sermon by Spurgeon or some other 18 or 19th century preacher whom referenced singing psalms. And I would sing Psalms 2, 27, 103, or some of my other favorites. But then I stopped, as I continued reading and learning and doing other things in my extravagant lifestyle.
Then a lady from the church I currently visit lent me this book by Bonhoeffer. I was curious what God
Peter N.
A very short, but good introduction to some themes in the Psalms. As usual, Bonhoeffer connects the Psalms to Jesus and shows how we can only pray them by looking at Christ. A lot of wonderful insight into how the Psalms affect our prayer life. He closes with a short exhortation to morning prayer. This book would be good to pick up every now and then to put some spiritual adrenaline back in one's prayer life.
John Ellis
A short book, but a great book!

At times, people have asked me for a list of books that I believe Christians should frequently read. Usually, outside of the Bible, I only answer with two books - John Owen's Mortification of Sin and N.T. Wright's The Resurrection of the Son of God. I will now include on that list Bonhoeffer's short book about praying with and through Christ the Psalms.
This is a beautiful little introduction into the Psalms and how they teach us to pray. Bonhoeffer points always to the dual nature of Christ, of His and only His ability to teach us to pray, and the necessity of our accepting both our guilt and, through Christ's great sacrifice, our innocence - our right and the rightness of our taking everything to God.
Jason Logue
A lean book full of amazing depth and insight. I just finished reading this book as part of my morning devotional. I carefully digested only one chapter a day. Like most of his other works, Bonhoeffer must not be breezed through at all. He essentially makes a case for praying the Psalms almost exclusively, and why this is in line with how Jesus taught us to pray through the Lord's Prayer. He breaks down the types of Psalms into Davidic and non-Davidic, as well as Psalms about guilt, praise, plea ...more
May 17, 2013 Steve rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Steve by: Recommended reading in Eugene Peterson's Eat This Book
Shelves: uborrow, owned
This book is a gem. First of 90 books I've read for which I created a to-buy shelf. In this short book Bonhoeffer helped me see that I can pray the Psalms and not just read them. He writes short chapters on classifications of the Psalms (e.g., psalms on Creation, the Messiah, Suffering) and says it would not be difficult to show how the Psalter is totally absorbed in the Lord's Prayer. He also writes about the the blessing of morning prayer. He reminded my of how important this is to practice. H ...more
I didn't know that I was going to like this at first, which is unusual because I'm rather a Bonhoeffer fan. The first quarter or so is interesting, but a little heavy-handed in terms of Christianizing the Psalms--each one has a direct correlation to the Christ, they are to be prayed in all their richness, so on and so forth. Not that that isn't important or an interesting point to make, but again, it felt very obvious in some ways.
Once he got into actually categorizing the Psalms, though, I was
Wonderful, poignant (as Bonhoeffer always seems to be), and fascinating to read alongside C.S Lewis' Reflections on the Psalms. The only prevailing discomfort I had with this compact read was the absence of the Holy Spirit -- exchange some of Bonhoeffer's use's of Christ in regards to the Psalms with the Holy Spirit, and it all makes much more sense. Leave it as it is...and potential problems arise...?
An excellent little book that helped me understand that 1) the Psalms are not about me and my experience primarily, they are about Jesus, 2) which means that we can't cherry pick which Psalms we read. It also helped me understand how we can pray for destruction for God's enemies in good faith (because we want God to triumph at the end of times), and how we can pray that we are innocent when we are all sinners (because in those who are in Christ are innocent in the eyes of God because of Christ's ...more
Joshua Casey
A delightful little book – far and away the easiest read of his I've encountered. From cover to cover characteristic of the great German theologian.

In typical Bonhoeffer fashion, these pages contain piercing devotional thoughts mixed with an impressive command of scholarly criticism. As is also typical, nearly every chapter contains a quote from Luther and advice for including the contents of the book (ie. the Psalms) into the liturgical life of the Church. Finally, as only he can, Bonhoeffer st
Travis Johnston
Absolutely awesome! Perhaps the best book I have read in the last five years. Anyone looking for a short and to the point introduction the Psalms, or for a reason to take time to study the Psalms needs to read this book.
Sierra Struble
This book was just ok. The language is beautiful and moving, but the theology is questionable in some places, and some of his arguments have shaky evidence.
Bonhoeffer, providing an overview of the book of Psalms, is thought-provoking, as always.
Clifford Luebben
Bonhoeffer took on all my major questions and confusions when approaching the psalms and I received the answer: Jesus. Confused? Read the book and it will make sense. How can I pray the destruction of wicked people when I to am wicked? How can I proclaim my righteousness to God? I know know thanks to God speaking through this man. Reading the Psalms can now be such a richer part of my prayer life, and hopefully I can encourage so in my family and other community.
Excellent guide to reading the psalms in a whole new way. The first section gave such a thought provoking overview that I brought up points I learned from reading in many conversations afterward. The second section divided the psalms topically and I took time with each section to meditate on the psalms he mentions, reviewing Bonhoeffer's ideas about the topic as I went. It made for a very enriching exercise in my devotional time. Highly recommended.
Luke Brown
This book is not much longer than a magazine article, and yet probably much of what has been written about the Psalms in the past 50 years is only an elaboration of it. Interesting to read in the biography at the end of the book that after its publication, he was no longer permitted to publish. Will have to re-read it and see what set the Nazis off. I enjoy reading about the Confessing Church and its stand against the Nazis.
Rosemary Lindsay
I started reading this after I read the biography on him and I think I started with too much background in my head. Once I put that all aside and let go on my anti-Luther upbringing it really was such an impactful book. I love how he challenges to the passiveness of modern Christianity in such a short amount of words and easily impacts the soul to listen to the spirit and words of God.
David Woods
A nice little book on the Psalms, organizing them into classes and talking about each class of Psalm. Ties all the Psalms to the Lord's Prayer and to Christ. Neat little 10-15 page bio on Bonhoeffer at the end. This was the last work he was able to publish before the Nazi's cut him off publishing. This was my first Bonhoeffer read, planning to read Life Together next.
Rick Robie
Great book, gave me direction
One sentence of Bonhoeffer could take hours to unpack. This slim volume is deceptively simple to read - within his straightforward sentences is the hope that the whole church will learn to pray the Psalter together. And as we do, Christ will mediate on our behalf, perfecting the prayers that God gives us already in his Word.
An unusual book, so short. It's almost like a pamphlet promoting and introducing daily praying of the psalms, but because of Bonhoeffer's insight and authoritative manner, not to mention reputation, it becomes something more weighty. The little chapter on morning prayer is a gem.
I want to read more of Bonhoeffer's books, but so far. this is the only one I have read. I found it difficult, but useful as I think about the Psalms.

I would think that anyone wanting to pray the psalms would be interested in at least skimming this book
This is a really good book where Bonhoeffer goes through all of the different genres in the Psalms and shows how each of the genres are different expressions of prayer. It also includes a biography of Bonhoeffer’s life.
Brief but very helpful look, not at individual psalms, but at types of psalms and how to use the psalms as a prayer book. Might make a good Bible study frame (I think this might be the one Jan used for her Bible study)
Since I read this on a plane, I didn't have the actual Psalms handy to read through. I do, however, think that reading the Psalter in conjunction with this book will be interesting and helpful.
This was a very deep, short, typological introduction to the Psalms. It opened up the Psalms to me in a new way. It's rich and I'll have to re-read it a few times. Very enjoyable read.
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Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German Lutheran pastor and theologian. He was also a participant in the German Resistance movement against Nazism, a founding member of the Confessing Church. His involvement in plans by members of the Abwehr (the German Military Intelligence Office) to assassinate Adolf Hitler resulted in his arrest in April 1943 and his subsequent execution by hanging in April 1945, sho ...more
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“But it is a dangerous error, surely very widespread among Christians, to think that the heart can pray by itself. For then we confuse wishes, hopes, sighs, laments, rejoicings–all of which the heart can do by itself–with prayer. And we confuse earth and heaven, man and God. Prayer does not mean simply to pour out one’s heart. It means rather to find the way to God and to speak with him, whether the heart is full or empty. No man can do that by himself. For that he needs Jesus Christ.” 0 likes
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