A Christian fellowship lives and exists by the intercession of its members for one another, or it collapses. I can no longer condemn or hate a brother for whom I pray, no matter how much trouble he causes me. His face, that hitherto may have been strange and intolerable to me, is transformed in intercession into the countenance of a brother for whom Christ died, the face of a forgiven sinner. This is a happy discovery for the Christian who begins to pray for others. There is no dislike, no personal tension, no estrangement that cannot be overcome by intercession as far as our side of it is concerned. Intercessory prayer is the purifying bath into which the individual and the fellowship must enter every day. The struggle we undergo with our brother in intercession may be a hard one, but that struggle has the promise that it will gain its goal.
Lord, do Thou, Thou alone, deal with him according to Thy severity and Thy goodness.
To make intercession means to grant our brother the same right that we have received, namely, to stand before Christ and share in His mercy.
This makes it clear that intercession is also a daily service we owe to God and our brother. He who denies his neighbor the service of praying for him denies him the service of a Christian. It is clear, furthermore, that intercession is not general and vague but very concrete: a matter of definite persons and definite difficulties and therefore of definite petitions. The more definite my intercession becomes, the more promising it is.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, executed in April 1945 at the Flossenbürg Camp. “Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian Community” translated by John W. Doberstein, Harper and Row Publishers Inc. 1954, p. 87.