The head of German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's Social Democrats has hinted that confidence was not high ahead of a general election due in September when he called on people to pray for the party. The Social Democratic Party (SPD) are lagging far behind the conservative opposition Christian Democrats. "Pray for us," party chief Franz Müntefering told autograph hunters at a the ongoing Protestant church convention in Hanover. Müntefering took part in a theological debate with Christian Democrat leader Angela Merkel, who is almost certain to be named the opposition challenger to Schröder. Merkel, the daughter of a Protestant pastor, also led a bible study session. Schröder called for a surprise early election after the SPD was heavily defeated by the CDU in a state election in its former stronghold of North Rhine-Westphalia at the weekend. The most recent poll of voter intentions for a general election indicated the Christian Democrats would win 46 percent of the votes to 30 percent for the Social Democrats.