Supplications and intercessions
Luke 11:9 - 13; James 5:17-18; 1 Kings 18:1-46; 1 kings 8: 37-40, 54 - 55;
Supplication means to petition or entreat someone for something. A passionate zeal and hunger fuels the prayer of supplication. Strictly speaking supplication is not another form of prayer but the attitude and state of our heart that accompanies prayer.
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
Philippians 4:6 (KJV)
Supplications and petitions can occur in any prayer. Some people think that supplication can only accompany prayer when we are interceeding for other people. This is not true as we can see in the life of Hannah. Supplications went with her prayer as she asked God for a child. In 1 Samuel 1:9-13 we read
9 Then Hannah rose after eating and drinking in Shiloh. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat by the doorpost of the temple of the LORD.
10 She, greatly distressed, prayed to the LORD and wept bitterly.
11 She made a vow and said, "O LORD of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a son, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and a razor shall never come on his head."
12 Now it came about, as she continued praying before the LORD, that Eli was watching her mouth.
13 As for Hannah, she was speaking in her heart, only her lips were moving, but her voice was not heard. So Eli thought she was drunk.
The same is also true in Luke 11:9-13.
When you need something desperately, either for your country (1 Timothy 2:1), yourself or even someone else you will add supplications to your prayers. If you have never seen the need to earnestly seek God for something - maybe to know him more or for God to come to the aid of someone else, then you have missed out on an essential part of prayer.
Supplications are requests that come from a heart crying out to God. The prayer of supplication can sometimes lead us into fasting (Nehemiah 1: 1-6). Supplications draw us close to God and take the weight off our shoulders.
Questions for further contemplation on supplication and prayer.
A. What does the prayer of supplication involve?
B. What adjustments do we need to make in our life if we are to take up the prayer of supplication?
Genesis 18:22-33 (Abraham); 1 Kings 18:41-46 (Elijah); 2 Kings 4: 32-36 (Elisha); Acts 12:1-18 (The early church).
To intercede means to plead or mediate on behalf of another person. The scripture references above show specific circumstances where intercession was being made. Intercession will involve various degrees of supplication. Intercession is not normally a one-off prayer. It requires persistence (Luke 11:5-8; Luke 18:1-5).
Not appreciating the different types of prayer can hinder our prayer life. If you only recognise the prayer of faith you may fail to intercede for a child or friend who has gone astray or needs God to intervene in his or her life. Did you notice that Elijah had to keep praying seven times before the rain that God had already promised came (1 Kings 18:41-46).
When we take it upon ourselves to pray earnestly for other people, we enter into the realm of intercession. To enter into intercession we must have a heart that really loves the Lord and cares about the things God cares about.
There are two places in scriptures where the Bible mentions Jesus is still interceding for us since his departure from this world (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25). He also prayed for us while on earth (John 17). When God calls you to interceed for others he is granting you the privilege to partake in a heavenly ministry that Christ is involved in. What a honour!
There are millions of Christians worldwide who are quietly engaging in intercession for all kinds of things at one level or another. Are you one of them? Do not give up. Intercession it is a privilege that you should not take lightly.
Questions for further contemplation on intercession.
A. What is the prayer of intercession?
B. Who can get involved in the prayer of intercession?
C. What effects do the prayer of intercession have?
D. What is the relationship between supplication and intercession?
Article modified from 7 September 2007 version.