So the very beginning of any scholarship begins not with what, why, or how, but "who?". The beauty in his existential thought reveals itself when he says that Christ is not known through his works as Schleiermacher proposes, but his works are known through the very person of Christ. Christ is known when he reveals himself in the noncompulsive silence of prayer.
In Life Together by Bonhoeffer, one of the most important aspects of community is confession; but I didn't quite understand why a Protestant theologian would emphasize confession so strongly until I read his analogy that in confessing our sins to one another we are authentically revealing ourselves. We cannot be forced to reveal ourselves, and neither can Christ.
As Filipina theologian Melba Maggay says:
Prayer is not a pious instrument by which we move God to baptize our enterprises; it is entering the strength of him who moves history and binds the powers that be. viaPrayer is not the place where we come to control Christ, but where Christ can if he wills to reveal himself and answer the question of "who?". The encounter with Christ is unavoidable since, as Bonhoeffer says, Christ is alive therefore "there are only two ways possible of encountering Jesus; man must die or he must put Jesus to death." Unfortunately, I believe the natural reaction of most of us is to put Christ to death.
I also wonder if Bonhoeffer isn't helping the church to understand how to be the listener when the other confesses their sins. Too often we act as if we are the forgivers or if our wise words can fix the person opening themselves to us, but maybe the most appropriate response is silence for in silence between two people Christ can speak or we can hear the words to repeat from the very source that defeats the powers that be.
We gain access to Christ in the "attempt to be in the place where the Person reveals himself in his own being, without any compulsion. That is the place of prayer to Christ. Only by the Word freely revealing himself is the Person of Christ available and with that also his work."