Why Is 'Prayer of Supplication' Meaningful to Christians?
- Sue Schlesman Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2020 16 Jan
If you use the word “supplication” in regular conversation, you are either 1) trying to sound spiritual, 2) from the 19th century, or 3) talking about prayer.
“Supplication” is an old-fashioned word for request, most often used in old literature in the context of weary pilgrims or tortured prisoners. No surprise, the verb “supplicate” originates from England in the 14th and 15th centuries as an Anglicized form of the Latin word supplicatus, which means “to kneel.” Its Middle English definition was “to pray humbly; to entreat or petition humbly.”
Supplication is a request. And if the request is made to God, it becomes a prayer.
However, supplications aren’t those quick prayers at dinnertime or bedtime. In a supplication, the requester asks God for something from a place of humility and desperation—from an acute awareness of inferiority and need. This prayer is not a groveling from self-loathing, nor rubbing the genie lamp, as if God were required to meet his wishes. This prayer is humble.
Humility is crucial to answered prayers. Every time Jesus encountered humble, desperate people, He immediately met their needs. In Mark 5 alone, Jesus heals the demoniac, raises Jairus’ daughter from the dead, and eradicates a woman’s 12-year hemorrhage. None of these requests were too hard or too demanding for Him. He willingly met them with compassion and power.
When we’re humble before God, we acknowledge our sinful condition as well as God’s holiness. Humble people pray with right motives (James 4:1-3). We will pray on behalf of other people (that’s called intercession). We will believe in God’s wisdom and timing because we won’t presume to understand God’s overarching plan.
Supplication arms us with the strength and courage to suffer and wait while we ask for relief. If we’re truly humble, we will ask in faith and continue to believe even when life doesn’t turn out like we had hoped (James 1:5-8).
Verses about Supplication
Psalm 20:4 – “May he give you the desires of your heart and make all your plans succeed.”
2 Chronicles 33:13 – “And when he prayed to him, the Lord was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea.”
Jeremiah 33:3 – “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”
Matthew 7:7-11 – “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”
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Beautiful Examples of Supplication in the Bible
Moses asked to see God’s glory (Exodus 33:18)
Hannah asked for a son (1 Samuel 1:11)
David asked for punishment of his enemies (Psalm 83)
Hezekiah asked for God to prolong his life (2 Kings 20:1-3)
Esther asked for deliverance of the Jews (Esther 4:15-16)
Jesus asked for strength on the cross and power for believers (John 17)
6 Prayers of Supplication
Try out these prayers of supplication. Notice the testimony of faith in each of them. Whenever you speak truth, you believe it a little more.
A prayer of supplication for healing:
Dear Lord, You are the Great Physician. You can heal anybody. I pray for your will and your power over this disease. I will honor and trust you regardless of what happens, but I pray for healing and deliverance. I ask that you show your glory through this healing. And I pray for your Spirit to be strong in me to accept your will. I want to communicate your love and power to everyone. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
A prayer of supplication for someone else:
Dear Lord, I pray for ________. I ask that you reveal yourself and that ________ recognizes you and turns to you. I pray for your protection and compassion over ________. Help me to represent you through my love and acceptance of _______. Make me a beacon of your light. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
A prayer of supplication for love and belonging:
Dear Lord, I am so lonely. I ask you to bring someone into my life who will love and accept me. I pray for contentment in your love, but you know how much it hurts to feel alone. Help me to be brave and take the opportunities you give me. Guide me to someone else who needs a friend or who needs you; help me to be sacrificial. I trust that you will meet my need in your timing. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
A prayer of supplication for wisdom or direction in a decision:
Dear Lord, I am desperate for your wisdom. I don’t know what to do. I will wait on you while I read your Word and listen for your voice. I know you are here to guide me and use me. Open my mind to ideas and perspectives that I don’t understand or see. Use me in whatever way you want. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
A prayer of supplication for protection:
Dear Lord, I am afraid. I pray for your power and protection over me right now. Give me discernment in my relationships and my decisions. I want to leave behind whatever is harmful to me or detestable to you. Help me find people to speak Biblical truth to me. I believe that you can do all things and that you have me in your hands. I trust you and obey you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
A prayer of supplication for faith:
Dear Lord, I’m confused. You feel so far away. Life doesn’t make sense right now. What are you doing? Why are all these things happening? Show yourself to me. I will read your Word and wait for you to speak. I will choose to trust that you are good because you have always done good for me. You died for me! I will trust that you are big enough to handle my doubts, my fears, and my confusion. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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How to Pray a Prayer of Supplication
When you pray a prayer of supplication, remember to:
Begin with praise. Refocus your mind and heart on the nature and holiness of God. If you allow yourself time to sit in God’s presence, God will orient your heart toward His will, and you will ask for the things He wants to give you.
Confess your sin. If you come to God with hidden sin, He will not hear your prayer. Ask God to reveal your sin to you (Psalm 51:1-7). Then confess and forsake it. Remembering who you are and why you need God is an active form of humility.
Ask God for His will. But don’t be afraid to ask Him for whatever you want. If you have praised, confessed, and lamented, your heart and mind are suppliant. God will answer you. (John 14:14)
Supplication binds our hearts to God’s. It strengthens our faith and provides an avenue to grow by asking for and receiving truth. Supplication will help you remember that God longs to communicate with you. He promises to meet your needs (Philippians 4:19).
Ideas for Supplication
A prayer of supplication is a significant part of a Christian’s walk because it proves our designed existence and destiny. We were fashioned to be in an intimate relationship with the God of heaven. God created us to walk and talk with him daily, to love him and long for him.
When we implore His power over our lives, we reveal our dependence on Him. Supplication builds faith, even as it requires faith. Try some of these ideas:
- Keep a prayer journal in which you note requests and answers.
- Keep a thankfulness journal to note little things every day that are a blessing from God. This action actually leads to asking for less as you recognize all He gives.
- Share prayer requests with friends and family, and then pray together.
- Post answers to prayer online to encourage others.
- Resist the temptation to treat prayer like a checklist.
A Prayer of Blessing and Supplication Over You
Lord God, bless this reader with the assurance that you love him/her. You are knocking at the door of his/her heart. You want to come inside and stay. I pray that this reader will seek to know you more, will trust your character, and will pour out his/her requests from a humble and believing heart. Thank you in Jesus’ name, Amen.
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Sue Schlesman is a Christian author, high school English teacher, pastor’s wife, and speaker. She has a BA in Creative Writing and a Master’s in Theology & Culture. Her second book Soulspeak: Praying Change into Unexpected Places released in August 2019. Sue’s material appears in a variety of print, online, radio, and podcast mediums. She has a passion for missions, social justice, traveling, reading, and the local church. Sue has been married to her husband Shane for 30 years, and they have 3 adult sons. You can find her in Richmond, VA, writing about life, education, family, and Jesus at sueschlesman.com.