The ABC of praying

Thanksgiving, intercession, supplication … The Lord’s Prayer shows us what should go into a prayer. But Jesus has taught us another triad of how we should pray. Here is well-known Bible text applied to our time.

“Some practical advice,” of the Lord to His disciples, “on what they should in order for God to answer their prayers.” This is what Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider called the Bible text he used on 18 February 2017 in Bissau (Guinea-Bissau): “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matthew 7: 7).

“Ask, and it will be given to you”

“To ask means that someone small is turning to someone big.” This requires

  • humbleness: “If I ask God for something, I cannot say: ‘You must give it to me.’ Let us come to Him filled with fear and humility. He is the Holy One, the Perfect One, the Almighty.”
  • gratitude: “Gratitude must be something we feel deeply. If we are aware that everything is grace, we will be grateful. Let us take time to think about this often.”
  • faith: “We have to believe in our own prayers. When we pray, we are convinced: God will give me what I need. And that which God will give me will suffice for the salvation of my soul.”

“Seek, and you will find”

“To seek is more than asking God, ‘Dear Lord, give me something.’ Seeking requires action, movement, and effort.” This applies to

  • the kingdom of God: “Of course, we worry about our earthly lives and the future of our children. We have to provide for ourselves and work. But the most important thing is always the salvation of our soul.”
  • the will of God: “Of course, we have to attend the divine services. But that is not enough. We have to do more than just listen. We have to think about what we hear. If we seek the will of God, the Holy Spirit will help us find it.”
  • peace: “This definitely requires effort. Peace is always endangered. Let us not only seek our own peace and welfare, but also that of our neighbour. Let us even pray for those who hurt us.”

“Knock, and it will be opened to you”

“The image is clear. You want to enter a place, the door is locked, and you do not have the key.” This applies to

  • situations where there is no way out. “Even if we find ourselves in a position with no way out, let us not break down the door with sin and violence. Let us continue to follow Jesus Christ and wait for Jesus to open the door.”
  • the kingdom of heaven. “We are aware that we do not deserve to live in the glory of God. With our behaviour and our prayers we signal to the Lord: ‘We long to be with You. Accept us in grace!’”
  • the return of Christ. “Let us constantly pray, ‘Lord, come soon!’ Let us knock, be patient, and persevere until the Lord Jesus opens the door to us.”

In conclusion, the Chief Apostle summed things up as follows: “Jesus was very clear about this: whoever asks, seeks, and knocks in this way will receive an answer.”

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Andreas Rother
Guinea-Bissau, Chief Apostle, Divine service