1 June 2024

The right way to pray

Jesus promised, if you gather together in My name and ask in My name, you will receive. Whenever we come together to pray in Jesus’ name, He is among us and prays with us.


If we gather in Jesus’ name and ask God for that which Jesus asks of God for us, then Jesus prays with us. But we must ask for the same thing that He asks for. So if anyone prays, “God, I want to be very, very rich,” they cannot expect Jesus to join in their prayer. Because Jesus said something completely different about money and rich people. And if I pray, “Jesus, you must punish my enemy,” I cannot expect Jesus to pray that with me because He will not agree. Such prayers are not answered because they are not in agreement with Jesus’ prayer.


What does Jesus ask God for us? In John 17: 24 we can read: “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am.” If we want our prayers to be answered, we must strive to ask God for that which Jesus asks of His Father for us.


Heartfelt greetings


Jean-Luc Schneider



Prayer works!

On 7 January 2024, Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider conducted the first divine service of the new year in Basle, Switzerland

1 Thessalonians 5: 17

 “Pray without ceasing.”

Dear brothers and sisters, this prayer, into which we all joined, is indeed a very beautiful start into the new year: “Show us the way to the kingdom of glory.” We have one goal in our life, and that is God’s glory. Our goal is not only our own well-being, happiness, and success. We have set ourselves a much bigger goal. We want to enter into glory, into perfect fellowship with our God. This is what we have decided and this is and remains our goal also in the new year. On the day of the Lord, we want to enter the kingdom of God and have fellowship with God.


This is not a dream or wishful thinking: The return of Jesus Christ is not an eventuality. It is a divine fact and not a promise that just anyone has given us. When God and the Holy Spirit speak of the day of the Lord, they are describing something that is before their eyes. This is difficult to understand, but for God both the future and the present are equally current to God. He has everything in front of Him. He is not bound to time. When He speaks to us about the return of Jesus Christ, He is describing something that He already sees and that has already taken place for Him. This is our consolation. It is not a vague promise: maybe it will happen one day. We do not know the date, but it is absolutely certain that it will take place. Hence this prayer to show us the way. How do we get there? How can we participate? Such a prayer the Holy Spirit will always answer. He points to Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the way. If you want to enter the kingdom of God, if you want to be part of the return of Jesus Christ, then you must follow the path paved by Jesus Christ. His teaching and life is the way. Follow His example and His teaching. This is how we can prepare ourselves for the return of Christ and reach our goal. Whatever happens in the coming year, let us come to God and ask Him to show us the way. And the Holy Spirit will tell us to look up to Jesus Christ and to occupy ourselves with His gospel and put it into practice. That is the way.


This year, too, God will always be there for us

An essential element of the teaching of Jesus Christ is prayer. Pray at all times, pray without ceasing. Jesus used many examples to explain this, such as the parable of the widow and the judge, when He spoke of the end-time. Pray always, do not let up in prayer. That is part of this journey. Prayer is an important part of our preparation for the day of the Lord and is therefore also our motto this year: “Prayer works!” The Holy Spirit will always show us the way. In fact, He goes even further. God not only shows us the way, He also gives us the promise: don’t worry, I will always be with you on this path.


Paul took a different approach. He spoke about Jesus Christ, who is now in heaven at the throne of God and who intercedes for us. No matter what happens, Jesus Christ intercedes for us. We imagine the Son of God going to the Father and asking Him, “You must help him now, please forgive him.” It is a bit difficult to reconcile this with our understanding of the Trinity. We think the Father has something in mind and then Jesus comes and says, “No, don’t do that; have mercy on him or help her.” That would mean, however, that the Father changes His mind and His plans because Jesus Christ intervenes on our behalf. We know and believe that the Trinity of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit is completely one. This simply means—and that is what Paul wanted to express—that God is always willing to help and forgive us. When he said that Christ, the Son of God, makes intercession for us it means nothing other than that this year too, God will always be willing to help and forgive us—unconditionally and always. He is always ready and there for us. This is what this means.


Paul also said that the Holy Spirit prays and intercedes for us when we cannot find the words. The Holy Spirit is part of the Trinity. This means nothing other than: God will always hear the cry, the longing of our soul. He will always sense our pain, our suffering, even if we cannot find the right words. We can be sure that God knows us, that He hears our prayer even if it is just a sigh. God will always hear it. He is interested in how we are doing. He understands all our troubles. Every worry is important to Him. He is always there for us. God not only shows us the way, but also gives us confidence and the promise: don’t worry, I will always be there for you. I am here to help you, to forgive you, and to listen to you.


Back to our Bible text: “Pray without ceasing.” That does not mean that we should pray every hour, all day, and all night. Nobody can do that. At least I can’t. Every now and then I must do something different. Pray always means that we pray in every situation. This means nothing other than that our prayer is not dependent on our situation, our circumstances, our needs, our fears, nor on our difficulties: our prayer is the result of our relationship with God. That is the difference.


Many people pray when they are in a crisis. All of a sudden, they remember that there is someone they can call on. Pray always means that our prayer is based on our relationship with God. We pray because we believe in God and know that He is almighty. Nothing is impossible for Him. We believe in His love. He loves us. We believe that He will redeem us, which is why we keep coming back to Him. We love Him from the bottom of our hearts and feel the need to talk to Him, to come to Him, and have fellowship with Him in conversation and prayer, simply because we love Him. We need to keep in touch with Him. Let us pray always, regardless of our situation, but simply out of faith and love for God. This is what our prayer is based on.


Prayer works. Prayer is effective. This can now keep us busy all year round. I do not want to elaborate on this subject any further now. Let us look at the different elements of prayer and think about how prayer can work.


Adoration is an important element of prayer. Brothers and sisters, I know this has not always been part of our tradition. I can remember that this was not a focus when I was young. That only came later with Chief Apostle Fehr and Chief Apostle Leber. They brought this subject up. The adoration of God is a very important aspect. This year too, let us take the time to think about God and take an interest in His nature. This takes time and we need to take a step back and think about it. Who is God? This is how we can occupy ourselves with His omnipotence. What does that mean? God is the creator and He is omnipotent. God is perfect. People tend to be quick to say that, but there is much more to God’s perfection. He never makes a mistake. Everything He does is perfect. There is no need for improvement. What He says and does is simply perfect forever and ever: the omnipotence, the perfection of God, the majesty of God, the love of God. God is not just someone who loves us. He is love. He cannot help but love us. That is His nature. It is worthwhile to take a closer look at this every now and then. This will then also have an effect on us. It helps us to have the right relationship with God, and it gives rise to the fear of God and respect. One realises how big He is and how small we are. The people who are so powerful and shout so loudly are very small.


Let us always take time to worship God

On the other hand, a deep sense of trust grows: God is almighty and perfect and He loves me. I have every reason to trust Him completely. What this aspect alone can produce in us! On the one hand humility, fear of God, and respect, and on the other hand trust and confidence. Prayer works. Adoration has an influence on us. Something happens in our hearts.


Dear brothers and sisters, we do not need to do this every day, but let us regularly take time to worship God and occupy ourselves with His nature. This has a positive influence on us and is a wonderful preparation for the return of Jesus Christ for those who love God, who trust Him, and who follow Him in faith.


Another element of prayer is gratitude. Giving thanks is very important. I don’t want to lecture you now, but perhaps we could thank God a little more intensively this year and focus on what God has given us, what He has done for us, what He is doing, and what He will do. I know that people are always inclined to first see what they don’t have, what they still don’t have, what they no longer have, and what they lack.


When you visit other countries like I do, you realise that discontentment is independent of people’s financial situation. There are people who have a lot and are constantly dissatisfied. I see people who have nothing and are very happy. The bottom line is that contentment and discontentment have nothing to do with what we have or don’t have. Satisfaction is the result of our heart’s attitude. There are people who have a lot and are never satisfied. Applied to the spiritual, I recommend that we occupy ourselves with what God has given us.


Adoration means: everything comes from God. And if everything comes from God, then everything we have also comes from Him. Gratitude for this creates joy in our hearts, something that has become rare in this world. This joy creates contentment and also ensures our emotional balance. We become stronger in our lives. Those who are grateful are stronger than those who are ungrateful. They are not easily shaken, because they remember everything that God has already given them. Their life is stable. Gratitude therefore has a huge impact on us and becomes a blessing for us. Let us take the time to be grateful this year.


We also come to God with our requests. In our opening hymn, we sang together that we can come to God in prayer to tell Him everything. This is something I think about a lot. I am afraid that prayer life has diminished here and there and that people no longer talk to God so much. A prayer does not necessarily have to be said on your knees, in front of your bed, or kneeling in front of the altar. You can also have a conversation with God in your thoughts. Brothers and sisters, let us take advantage of this opportunity to talk to God. So much is said and posted about everything and everyone on social media. What about prayer, what about our dialogue with God? Brother, sister, you can always come to God and tell Him everything, absolutely everything, without shame, without fear, without shyness. We can talk to Him freely about everything. Whether you are happy, angry, annoyed, or unhappy, just come to God and tell Him in your thoughts and in prayer. Dear God, there is something that troubles me. I am all worked up about so-and-so; she has insulted me; it is unfair. Pray to God and tell Him about it openly. It works. God always has time. Other people usually do not have time to listen to you and after five minutes you realise they are not interested in your worries at all. The good Lord always has time. It is so good to know that. You can come to Him any time, no matter when. He has time for you. He listens to you and understands you.


When worship and gratitude work together, then something comes of this prayer. We speak to God, to the Almighty, to the Perfect and Loving One, and realise: He understands us. And because He is almighty and perfect, because He is love and because He is the Saviour, He will do the right thing. And He will help us. It is impossible for Him not to help us. He knows better than we do what we need and what is best for us.


Adoration: He is the Saviour. But what does God want? When we ponder about this and bring our worries and concerns to Him, we will realise that He wants us to be with Him forever. Jesus Christ wants us to be where He is. The more we think about this, the more we realise that His will must be done. And then we no longer resign ourselves to His will, but do it out of conviction, even enthusiasm, “Dear Lord, Your will be done. I know what You want. You want to save me. You want to give me eternal happiness. You want to lead me into Your kingdom, where there will be no more suffering, no more death, no more pain.” And then this prayer, “Your will be done,” becomes a wonderful source of comfort and strength. We come to God after expressing our adoration and gratitude, and now we speak out and tell Him everything that is not good and entrust it to Him, and then the answer comes from the Holy Spirit. Remember who He is and what He wants: His will be done.


When Jesus Christ was on earth, He was absolutely certain that God would give Him what He asked of Him. This was a wonderful assurance. He had this guarantee: what I ask of the Father, He will give Me. And that is what happened. Why is that? Because the Lord Jesus always asked God for that which God wanted to give Him. And I think that is a simply fantastic idea. God always heard Jesus because Jesus always asked Him for what God wanted to give Him. Let us do the same. Above all, let us ask God for that which He wants to give us, namely salvation, redemption, and blessing. Then we can be sure that God will hear us.


So let us come to God with our requests, worries, fears, and needs and tell Him about everything openly. We can be certain that He will help us. And His help is the best we can receive.


Now to the last point: intercession. This is an important point in this day and age. I mean, we are not blind. When we look around us—in our families, in our congregations, in the world—we see a lot of suffering. Before the divine service, the ministers told me that here in the congregation and in the district, too, there are brothers and sisters who are in great distress. This really is the case everywhere, and it is a big concern of mine. One cannot be indifferent and say, well, that is just the way it is. What can we do about it? Well, we can pray for our family, we can pray for our congregation, and we can pray for our fellow human beings. Intercession is very important. It is a very important part of our preparation for the return of Jesus Christ. Jesus will take those to Himself who follow Him and do His will. And His will is: love your neighbour as you love yourself. This commandment alone gives rise to the need for intercession. We have just prayed for ourselves and we love our neighbour as we love ourselves, so let us also pray for others. We want them to thrive too. We pray for them and share in their well-being, their worries, their fears, and their needs. Because we love others, we share in their fate and come to God and pray for them. And intercession works.


I can already hear those who say, “Yes, but not always.” And I can understand that. I prayed for many brothers and sisters, and yet they still died. God did not heal them. I think of certain countries for which I have been praying for peace for decades and it is getting worse and worse. People are living in great distress and hardship: God, do something. But nothing happens. People die of hunger and so on. The thought then arises: intercession is all very well, but it is totally useless; it doesn’t work. That is human experience and human reason.


Let me come back to worship. How do we picture this? You pray, the congregation prays, and when the congregation prays, the good Lord intervenes. That would mean that the Lord has a plan for how it should happen and because you now come to Him in prayer, He changes His mind and His plan? It is difficult when you really begin to think about it. Do we think that because of our prayers God says, “Because you are all praying now, I will help her and turn the situation around.” That would mean that we love our neighbour more than God loves him or her and because of our intercession, God has changed His mind and brought about a change in the situation. Experience teaches us that intercession is not always helpful. Our mind tells us, with your faith this is not possible. But then we must tell our mind and our experience: “I cannot understand it, and it is contrary to my own experience, but I believe in it.” The Lord Jesus prayed for us when He was on earth. The first Christians prayed for one another, and so did the first Apostles. Paul often appealed to the churches to pray for him. If that were complete nonsense, it would not be in the Bible and the Lord Jesus, Paul, Peter, and the church in Jerusalem would not have done it this way. Therefore, intercession works! It is written in the Bible. We should pray for others and we do this in faith and trust. Even if we do not understand how it works, and even if our experience tells us otherwise, let us pray for others. Out of love for others we feel a need to pray for them. Intercession first influences the person offering the prayer. When we make time and take an interest in others, we suddenly realise that their difficulties are far greater than ours, even though they deserve the same kind of well-being we have. Let us think about this. When we see our brothers and sisters or our fellow human beings in the world, we realise that they are at least as good as we are, but they do not have what we have. Then you begin to understand what grace really means, and you become even more grateful and realise: “This is a gift of grace given to me by God. I do not deserve this. I cannot understand why I received it and not him or her. Thank you, dear Lord.” This helps us to better understand what grace means. Then we pray to God in trust, in adoration. God is love and He loves my neighbour as He loves me. God knows what he or she is doing and He will help them. This is not a possibility or a probability; no, this culminates in certainty: God will help! That strengthens us. We have complete trust in God. God will help my neighbour too, and His will will also be done on my neighbour. And then we realise that the only solution for our neighbour, for humankind, is the return of the Lord, salvation, and the new creation. The more we concern ourselves with what is happening on this earth, the greater this conviction becomes. The only way, the only solution is really God’s plan of redemption and for God to deliver humankind from this evil once and for all. Then you really understand God’s plan of redemption and why He is doing all of this. This is the only solution for humankind: to enter the new creation and to be able to live again with God forever. We draw consequences from this. One consequence of intercession for us is gratitude, a better understanding of grace, trust in God that He will help, and focussing on God’s plan of salvation.


Intercession helps us, but intercession also helps our neighbour. We have been given the promise of God and are confident that He will answer these prayers. He will help our neighbour. For those who know that someone is praying for them it is comforting. They can feel that there is still someone who is interested in them, who sympathises with them. It is very important. There are not that many people who still do that. It is comforting to know that someone is praying for them and sharing in their suffering. Comfort also strengthens trust. We trust God to help them and that strengthens them in their trust. And then something very mysterious happens. I cannot explain it, but I experience it every day. You feel like you are being carried on hands of prayer. It is a beautiful image and it cannot be explained by reason. But if there is one person who experiences this, it is me. I know that many brothers and sisters are praying for me. I do not know who. I do not know how many. I do not know where. But I know one thing. I feel the support from the prayers of my brothers and sisters. I cannot explain it. It is a fact. And I know of many brothers and sisters who are in a very distressing situation, who say, “Fortunately, we know that our brothers and sisters are praying for us. I feel the support from the prayers.” Intercession works! And added to that is our confidence that God will help.


Adoration, gratitude, petition, and intercession are effective. Let us occupy ourselves with this intensely and pray together. When we pray the Lord’s Prayer together, for example, it strengthens the unity of the Church. We should think more about this. When we pray together, it underlines the fact that we are all dependent on God’s grace together. We say to God, “Have mercy on me.” This strengthens unity. We all have the same goal and the same request: show me the way, strengthen our unity. Let us place even more emphasis on praying together in the future. Prayer works.



  • The Holy Spirit inspires us to pray.
  • The Lord prays for us.
  • Praying in the name of Jesus contributes to our salvation.
  • Our collective prayer strengthens the unity of the Church.


↑Top of this page