What Is A Prayer Of Supplication? A Christian Study

by Dr. Michael L. Williams · Print Print · Email Email

People pray in many different ways. Some are very formal and will present their prayers in such a way that they look and sound like they are petitioning the Queen of England to intervene in their private affairs. Others pray the same prayer over and over again until it becomes nothing but words rolling off their tongue. Still others, pray in such a way that their prayers sound like they’re talking to a friend. However, there is one thing about prayer that everyone should keep in mind. That is praying with supplication. With this in mind, we will do a short Christian study from the Bible to learn what is a prayer of supplication?

What Is A Prayer Of Supplication

What is the common definition of the word supplication?

Supplication is commonly defined as (1): “The action of asking or begging for something earnestly or humbly.” It was most commonly used before the year 1600 as well as the early 1800s (2). Today it is not commonly used, but those that use the King James Bible are familiar with the term. Historically, the word supplication comes from a Latin term, supplicare, which means to plead humbly and has the word supple as its root (3). The fact that the word supplication has the word supple at its root provides great insight for us in understanding a prayer of supplication.

How does the Bible define the word supplication?

The word supplication is used in the Old Testament several different ways. Each Hebrew word communicates the idea of humbling one’s self to another, often in the case of prayer. In the New Testament, supplication is tied to prayer (Acts 1:14; Ephesians 6:18; Philippians 4:6). From the perspective of God, His response to our sincere supplication is with mercy and grace. In the case of man, our supplication goes deeper considering our position before God.

What is involved in praying with supplication?

In Philippians 4:6, we are told: “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” The phrase, “Be careful for nothing,” literally means to be anxious for nothing. In other words, do not get anxious about anything. Instead, in everything we are to submit our requests to God through prayer and supplication with thanksgiving.

Most people understand praying and giving thanks. However, supplication communicates how we should pray. It is more than just submitting our requests to God, but instead, submitting them with the mindset that we should humble ourselves and become supple before God. To put this in perspective, think about what it means when someone or something is supple. For example, if someone has supple skin, then their skin can be described as soft, pliable, healthy, and giving way under the pressure of touch. If you were to squeeze someone’s arm that has supple skin, you would expect that their skin would give way to your touch much like soft clay would give way when pressure is applied.

With this in mind, when we pray with supplication, we are not only humbly submitting our requests to God, we’re doing it with the mindset that we want God to make our minds supple. This is so that He can mold our thinking, our opinions, and our emotions to be in line with His thinking, opinions, and emotions. David prayed such a prayer in Psalms 51 when he confessed his sin to God and prayed that God would forgive him, cleanse him, and create in him a clean heart and renew his spirit. David did not want God to change to meet his desires. He wanted God to change him to meet God’s desires.

Therefore, when we pray with supplication we are asking God to change us into the image of His Son and to mold us into what He wants us to be. When this happens, it helps us to grow closer to Christ and our desires become His desires. When our desires become His desires, it changes our opinion of what we want God to do and what we believe is right. With this in mind, it gives us a deeper perspective on Psalms 37:4-5 where we are told: “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.”

Many people read this verse with the idea that if they draw close to God that God will give them what they desire. However, when we submit our prayers to God with supplication, He changes us and our desires change as well. Therefore, this verse teaches not that we will get what we want, but instead we will desire what God wants.

Conclusion

Supplication is commonly defined as: “The action of asking or begging for something earnestly or humbly.” The word supplication comes from a Latin term, supplicare, which means to plead humbly and has the word supple as its root. When we pray with supplication, we are not only humbly submitting our requests to God, we’re doing it with the mindset of allowing our minds to be supple and receptive to God’s will. We want God to mold our thinking, our opinions, and our emotions to be in line with His thinking, opinions, and emotions. When this happens, God changes us to be more like His Son, which changes our desires and our will to be in line with His.

Something else for you to read: Bible Verses About Prayer

Resources – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, King James Version. (1) Google. (2015). “Supplication”. Retrieved from Google, https://www.google.com/search?q=supplication&rct=j. (2) Google (2015). “Supplication”. Retrieved from Google books Ngram Viewer, https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=supplication&case_insensitive=on&year_start=1500&year_end=2008&corpus=15&smoothing=7&share=&direct_url=t4%3B%2Csupplication%3B%2Cc0%3B%2Cs0%3B%3BSupplication%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Bsupplication%3B%2Cc0. (3) Douglas Harper (2015). “Supplication”. Retrieved from Online Etymology Dictionary: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=supplication&searchmode=none





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