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Difference Between Prayer and Supplication

What’s the Difference Between Prayer and Supplication

Is there a difference between prayer and supplication in the Bible? YES THERE IS A DIFFERENCE! This is the page, where those differences between the two will come to light as we take a close look at scripture.

These two terms seem to be peppered throughout the Old Testament and the New. We often hear about prayer and supplication being used together by preachers or maybe in Christian books, and because of that, it may be possible, that many of us may have been using these terms as synonymous.

Ephesians 6:18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

Let’s talk about Ephesians 6:18 for a minute. We’ll first address the focus behind this verse. Who is it that Paul is addressing? He is addressing us as believers, the body as a whole, filled with the Holy Spirit. If filled with the Holy Spirit, we can pray in the Spirit, and have faith in God for answers.

But in this verse, prayers for who? The saints. Actually, for all saints. Not just those who we know and associate ourselves with, but ALL of the saints.

This verse is not talking about praying for the bills to get paid, a new car, or anything that concerns us personally, but prayers for the saints as a whole. Not just prayers but also supplication. What is supplication, and how does it differ from prayer?

Difference Between Prayer and Supplication Defined

 1. a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or an object of worship
 1. the action of asking or begging for something earnestly or humbly
(Not my definitions but courtesy of Google)

Clearly these differ in meaning, reading the defined terms, but which do you do the most? Maybe we kind of blend the two together. Maybe we shouldn’t. Maybe we should keep our prayers prayers, and our supplications to God separate. I won’t say that I have a clue that it does matter, but I’m willing to give it a shot from now on for one good reason.

The Holy Spirit saw fit to bring both of these terms up, and use them one following the other, but not synonymous with each other. If he sees a difference between the two, perhaps the answering of our prayers are impacted for the better or worse, depending on how we present our prayers and supplications to God?

Now that we’re getting into it, let’s check out what the Bible has to say and see if we can get to a supernatural truth in Christ, given by no other than Christ Jesus himself.

Christ’s example of Prayerprayerandsupplication-whats-the-difference-between-prayer-and-supplication

Jesus gave us the ultimate example of how we ought to pray. In Matthew 6 he says the following:

9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Simple, direct and to the point, and does in a way stick with the definition of prayer given above. No tears given, no chest thumping, no emotionally lead outbursts of pleading. After this manner means do it along these lines. In other words, this is a type given. Because the King of Kings and Lord of Lords called this a prayer, I’d say that it would be safe to use this as the example of a prayer.

Has the World tampered with your prayer life?

Christ’s example of Supplication

Now I am taking liberty here, because what I am about to use doesn’t specifically call it a supplication in the text, as it was specifically called out in what Jesus called prayer. Using the definition above concerning the word supplication, the following (to me anyways) seems to be a good fit. Check out the difference between the prayer given in Matthew 6 (above) and this Chapter 17 of John. While reading it, notice that the criteria is much different, and mostly concerns others when it comes to asking for anything.

John 17

17 These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said,

Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: 2 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. 3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

4 I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. 5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. 6 I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.

faithingod-whats-the-difference-between-prayer-and-supplication7 Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. 8 For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.

9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. 10 And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. 11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.

12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. 13 And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.

14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.

16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. 18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.

20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; 21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. 22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:

23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. 24 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovest me before the foundation of the world.

25 O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. 26 And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.

I don’t think that I have to continue rambling on about this. The differences between the two are very clear when you read one, and then the other. The first was for one’s self, the second was requests made for others. If we go back to the first piece of scripture that we looked at, I don’t think it’s by accident that Paul used supplication not only twice, but in connection with all the saints. Just as Jesus did in the above prayer. If you for some reason aren’t very familiar with John chapter 17, get yourself more familiar with it. You’ll be blessed by it.

When we resist the enemy, either in prayer or supplication, do we know who we’re resisting?

Actually, if you spend the time, and read that chapter (I shamelessly copied from Bible Gateway) about 5 or 6 times in a row, I’ll bet you receive more from it each time you read it. It’s from Christ himself so give it a shot!

difference-between-prayer-and-supplication-whats-the-difference-between-prayer-and-supplicationGet in the Word of God prayerfully and in the Holy Spirit and find discoveries for yourself! Actually, the whole Bible Study section of this site was produced in that manner. I have a feeling that I’ve only scratched the surface on this subject, and volumes have probably been written out there on the web.

I’m sure that there are many exhaustive studies on the difference between prayer and supplication out there on other sites, but this is my quick take on it anyways, and would encourage you to dig deeper.

Thank you for reading and all those that keep coming back and checking out these posts & pages, I thank you all for your interest in this site! Please feel free if inclined to do so, share it and spread it around to your friends or subscribers via the social tab to the left og the screen, and the tab below! Also all comments are appreciated as well!

I hope this either irons out or gets you thinking, about the difference between prayer and supplication!




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9 thoughts on “What’s the Difference Between Prayer and Supplication

  1. Dear Brain,
    This is my first visit to your post. I enjoy reading all. It is something my husband and I have been searcher into. I feel there is some difference, and how should anyone change the way we approach the throne room of God. God is Almighty. There is no power but of God, the powers that be are ordained of God. Therefore, I have a question. Since God is Almighty, and all power is in His hands, How can God or Christ become SUPERNATURAL? For myself, I have never liked that saying. A natural man can not receive the things of God, neither does he know them. So, if God becomes SUPER NATURAL, there has to be a power higher than Himself to become SUPER from. People being used of satan, becomes super strong when overtaken by an evil spirit.
    I don’t want to discourage you, you are doing a good work, but I pray you consider the idea of God, or Christ or the Truth being anything Supernatural. There is nothing natural about them. God bless you in your work for Him.


    • Hi Lillie,
      Thank you for checking out the site, and also for your comment. I agree with you, that there is nothing natural about the Father, the Son or the Holy Ghost. They are outside what we determine is natural, which is why we use the term supernatural. Being outside of our natural senses so to speak.

      Honestly, the things that are of the Lord, that we would consider as supernatural are only so from our perspective. Once we are with him after the coming of Christ, or should we go by way of the grave, whatever we consider supernatural now while we’re in the flesh, will become natural for us then. Know what I mean?

      So using the term supernatural is merely a way of saying not natural. This doesn’t impede on the sovereignty of the Lord at all, but is setting him apart from our natural senses. As you said, there’s nothing natural about the Most High. Thanks again for your comment, and may the Lord bless you mightily in Jesus name!
      In Christ,

  2. Hosea 12:4 says yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed: he wept , and made supplication unto him. He found him in bethel and there he spake with us. This same fight is in Gen 32:24-26. Jacob wrestle with the angel and prevailed. It was a fight in prayer and supplication. I hope you are bless with this revelation.

    • Hi Grace,
      Thanks for visiting and for your comment!
      I can understand where you’re coming from with that. It fits pretty well as a figurative example.
      But Jacob’s wrestling with the Angel of the Lord was a very physical wrestling match. If you recall, Jacob wound up with the “Man” dislocating his thigh, which is a wound that he lived with for the rest of his days if memory serves.

      Genesis 32:

      24 And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.

      25 And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him.

      26 And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.

      27 And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob.

      28 And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.
      29 And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there.

      30 And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.

      That was no common angel, nor was it a common man. I believe that this is a reference to the Lord Jesus Christ himself! I also believe that there is a greater prophetic significance to this whole scene, kind of in the same way that telling Moses to strike a rock vs telling Moses to say something to the rock were supposed to be prophetically significant.

      I’m not too sure why I went off on this. lol. I guess it’s because this small handful of scripture has always fascinated me.There is so much to gain from scriptures! Praise the Lord!
      Thanks again for your comment Grace, and may the Lord bless you mightily in Jesus name!
      In Christ,

  3. Thank you Brian, for this study. It gives me a new perspective on prayer & supplication. I love how Jesus includes frequent praise of Our Father & the acknowledgement & honor of His position within the plurality of God. This is another thing He shows us how to do. We hope you weathered the latest storms this winter. God bless you & family. Janet Goodwin

  4. Dear Bryan,

    God bless you brother Bryan in the Name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

    I appreciate the references given above about the bible. I’m greatfull that you use them and implied the references as given in the bible and not your ideas or thy will but the Lords Will be Done.

    • Hi there Victor,
      Thank you for your comment Brother! Right on, and that’s how I try to not only run this site, but day to day life as well. Let God’s will be done, all the time. When my will gets in the way, I’m in God’s way. All praise and Glory to the King of Kings!
      Thanks again and God bless you and all of yours in Jesus Name.

  5. Hey, Brian!

    I think you’re on to something here with the information in this post! There does appear to be a difference between prayer and supplication.

    Supplication, like you said seems to be strongly for others, in humility and many times in a desperate situation. When I think about those characteristics, I’m reminded of the prayer of Jehoshaphat for all of Judah when Moab and Ammon came against them in battle. I really believe this prayer is a good example of supplication!

    It’s found in II Chronicles 20! Jehoshaphat prays humbly that they have no power against these armies and reminds the Lord of how badly they treated by them when they were entering the land and how the Lord wouldn’t allow them to fight against these nations at that time. Then he tells the Lord how these same nations are now repaying them by coming to try too throw them out of the inheritance that God promised Israel and gave to them.

    He then reminds the Lord of how powerless Judah is against these armies and that if the Lord doesn’t do something they are done! He says there (one of my favorite parts), “O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee.”

    You can see, by the immediate answer from the Lord, that Jehoshaphat touched the heart of the Lord with that supplication. It was answered in just a few moments! I love that passage of scripture!

    Great post, my brother! keep up the good work and God bless!

    • Wow, Amen and thank you for the comment. Yes that does indeed happen allot in the Old Testament, actually David took that approach often the psalms. Where he actually reminds the Lord of any detail, much like building a case and was presented before God the Almighty Judge. I say Judge because often when David was speaking with the Lord about his enemies, he was looking for God’s Judgement. I guess the ultimate book that harbors prayers and supplications the most would be the book of Psalms.
      The Lord is kinda leading me to dive into this topic in my personal life to see whether or not it effects my prayer life in one way or the other. But I believe I’m going to have to get a better grass roots understanding between the two, much like how we need to determine the difference between needs and wants for example. Know what I mean?
      Thank you very much for the comment and the reminder for Chronicles 20. Awesome example!
      God bless you always in Christ Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

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