Prayer and Supplication: What is the difference?
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Posted: Wednesday, November 07, 2007
by Teresa Ortiz
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, withthanksgiving make your requests known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7
For many, prayer is a natural part of their relationship with God. I would argue, the most important part. Simply put, prayer is conversation with God. However, as a new Christian and even for some who have been Christians a long time, it seems foreign and uncomfortable.
For me, it was weird at first. Talking to God was not a normal part of my life before I received Christ as Savior-except for that occasional "HELP ME GOD!" when I was in immediate danger.
As I went to church and Bible study, I would listen to the way others prayed. I would try to copy their phrases. Phrases like "Father God, I come before you" or "Heavenly Father, I come to you in the name of Jesus". (There is nothing wrong with these phrases if they are sincere and come from your own heart.) Then I would listen to what they said and the order in which they said it--O' my! I would panic. How do they think of so much to say--how do they know so much Scripture?
There was no way I could compete. Nevertheless, as I continued to study the Bible, I came to know God. I learned about His character, His love, His grace, and never ending patience. The knowledge that was building up in my head began to sink to my heart. My relationship became more real, more personal. I had a friendship with God and I began to notice that my conversations with Him became natural. When I saw Him as a friend and not just the Almighty God in the sky (though He is), I was relaxed. I began to talk to Him about the weather, what I should wear that day and what He wanted me to do. My beginning phrase became, "You know Lord".
Over time, I stopped worrying about how my prayers sounded to someone else. I realized that prayer is not a competition. It's not about who can say the most and who can say it best. It's about sharing your most intimate thoughts and concerns with the God who loves you.
If prayer is new to you, don't be discouraged. One of the things that helped me get over the awkwardness of prayer was to write a Him a letter. Writing a letter seemed natural to me because I did a lot of letter writing to my friends. In doing this, my truest feelings of fear, joy, and wonder came out and flowed so naturally. I still write letters to God and it has become my most effective form of prayer to this date. My relationship with God has been enriched as a result. It took me a while to consider this, but the Bible is God's love letter to humanity. When I read it, I realize that God has answered every letter I have ever written to Him. Now that's friendship!
In learning more about prayer, I came to realize that the Bible speaks of two different kinds of prayer. As we consider Phil. 4:6, we see that Paul says with all "prayer and supplication". Why the two words? Do they have different meanings? They do. "Prayer" is defined as a humble and sincere request to God, while "Supplication" is defined as kneeling down, being bent over or doubled up while making an earnest request to God.
These definitions changed my prayer life. I began to study the different prayers in the Bible and I had fun labeling them. There is so much to learn from them. If you have never done this before, I encourage you to do so.
When I think of prayer, I think about my normal conversation with God; such as: Lord, bless my family today, keep them safe, thank you for loving me and saving me." When I think of supplication, I think about the times I cry out to God because someone is hurt, or seriously ill, or the time my daughter was in a car accident and the car flipped over. It was "God, please let her be ok!"
It's easy to understand once we take a good look for ourselves. For a Biblical example of what I am talking about, read the following passages: The story of Hannah can be found in 1 Samuel 1:1-18. Here, we see a woman who desires a child so strongly, that she is on her knees in earnest petition to God. In Psalm 18, we see King David having a conversation with God that is full of praise and thanksgiving.
In addition, as we pray and lay out our requests before Him, we need to remember that God is sovereign. He is in charge and knows what is best for us. So if we ask for something that may seem good in our eyes, remember that God see's the big picture, so if the answer is not what you expect, don't feel your prayer went unanswered. He just might have something bigger and better coming for you!
When you need a little reminder because things are tough, look to Hebrews 4:14-16 and Matthew 26:39. Your heart is sure to be encouraged as you learn to trust in God. After all, if He told us to talk to Him, He will be faithful to listen.
copyright 2006 Teresa Ortiz
This Article has been viewed 16,772 times. (Not updated in real-time.)More comments
» left by Frederick Percival 1 year 270 days ago.
Simply: prayer and supplication is like water and rain or water and sunshine. Both are required and they are created by God. It pleases him and it is. We do not often think to believe that our righteousness is simply obeying him and seeking him as one would seek a hidden treasure that makes the US National debt equal a penny!
And remember in all this glee, one can do it openly and one can do if in the heart. Both are good. I love the words that owe up to this principle: Blessed is the man who regards the day unto the Lord, and blessed is the man who does not regard the day unto the Lord, both are unto the Lord.
How easy and peaceful!
» left by Teresa Ortiz 1 year 270 days ago.
Thank you for sharing these great thoughts! I agree. I love how you say, "water and sunshine" what a beautiful picture of how filling and comforting prayer can be. Blessings! Teresa
» left by melusi from south africa 1 year 194 days ago.
l would say is a dialogue between God and man
» left by Michelle 1 year 139 days ago.
THANK YOU!! What dictionary did you use? I really liked the definitions you had!!
» left by Leroy A. Daley 1 year 130 days ago.
Great article Teresa you are indeed correct prayer is a conversation with the Lord God.
Additionally, I found from studying and from personal prayers supplication has one permeating characteristic. This feature is evident in great supplications from Scriptures: Jacob, Hannah, David, Solomon, Daniel and Jesus all display this common feature in their supplication, brokenness.
Again you are right Teresa prayer is not about competition but the heart and supplication is about a broken heart before God. Great article!
» left by Nakesha 1 year 122 days ago.
I enjoyed reading this article. It was very uplifting. It was helpful to me because I never knew the difference between the two. I am just like Hannah and I know that God will answer my prayers. I have read Philippians 4:6-7 several times and when you used it in the beginning of your article, I was in awe because I needed that reminder. Thank you. I would recommend reading your article several of my friends to. Good job!
» left by Cheryl from Trinidad and Tobago 1 year 59 days ago.
I'm reading this article just in time. I'm about to pray and fast and wanted to find out how to my prayers more effective for God and I came across your article. The breakdown is so simple for one to understand but effective. I will; be using this as a guide from now on. Thank you so much for writing it.God bless you and your loved ones.
» left by Rose from Nigeria Africa 1 year 12 days ago.
i luv you teresa thanks for enlightening me God bless you and i need your serious prayer.much love
» left by Oliver Ziyani from Zimbabwe 330 days 19 hours ago.
Hie Teresa that was a great revival&encouragement you did in ma heart. You are also in line wth what we are being preached at our church. My prayer life has been so weak for the past 6months.
» left by Bonnie 301 days 12 hours ago.
Thank you so much.
» left by George Kampango from Lilongwe, Malawi 91 days 21 hours ago.
Your articles energises my heart and soul. Everything you have communicated is very right and comforting. There were times in the past when I got scared of being requested to say a prayer but over time, jsut as you say, reading the Word of God, has broadened my understanding of the two, prayer and supplication. Sometimes I would "let us pray" and I did not have anything appealing to the audience (I thought), only to hear myself conversing with God in a spiritual flow! He gave me the prayer and continues to do so because He knows what I and my brothers and sisters need. Thank you, Teresa, and God bless you abundantly in the prescious Name of Jesus.