This is the fourth post in a series about prayer. You can read the whole series here.
Supplication is asking– even begging– for something earnestly. It is the final step in our ACTS of prayer– the part of prayer we tend to think of most often when we think of praying.
One of the things I love about the ACTS system (for lack of a better word) is that I believe it puts the asking in its rightful place. When I have already spent time worshiping God for His attributes, confessing my own sin and getting my heart right with Him, and thanking Him for His goodness to me, I can come to Him with a humble and trusting heart. God wants us to come to Him with our prayers and requests, and honestly I don’t think He’s up in heaven marking down on some cosmic white board every time we ask for help before we adore Him. The ACTS of prayer puts my heart in the right place. It shifts my perspective from the problems that can seem like mountains to the God who can move them. And so I can pray with greater faith.
When I think about supplication, I generally am talking about my intercession on behalf of my family, friends, etc., as well as asking God to provide my needs, care for our church, and bless His people. My most intimate personal requests are usually part of my confession time, because in the process of confessing I am continually asking God to change me, grow me, teach me, renew me. There is nothing particularly holy or inspired about this method of doing it. It’s just what I do.
About a year ago I sensed God leading me to pray out loud for the supplication part of my prayers. As I have mentioned, I generally journal my time of prayer, and I had been including my supplication in that, but as my prayer list got longer time became a huge struggle. The praying out loud thing was also a huge struggle. In the mornings I am usually at the kitchen table and my husband is in the next room and there is something really awkward about praying out loud while someone else is ten feet away reading Facebook or writing a sermon. After a couple weeks of whispered under-the-breath prayers, I felt God prompting me again, this time to invite Art to pray with me. And that is what we started doing. Now each morning we spend some time praying together– bringing our requests before the throne of grace. It’s a good thing. 🙂
I’ll be honest with you when I say that I feel like often we as believers are very shallow in what we pray. I’m so guilty of “bless so and so” and “heal so and so” and “provide for such and such.” And it’s not like that is a bad thing; it’s just that when you really look at the New Testament examples of prayer, you don’t see a lot of “and pray for Uncle John’s goldfish.” I have been challenged recently to really focus on spiritual needs as I pray. It’s really hard. Sometimes I have absolutely no idea what to pray. Sometimes the physical needs are so great that they just weigh on us. I am just starting to explore this idea, and I really hope that as God works in my heart I will be able to come back and share what He’s teaching me.
But for now, I’m just going to tell you how I personally organize my time of supplication, because this is one place where I really think you need some form of organization. For years my mom has used 3×5 cards. I use a binder. Find something that works for you. Don’t be a perfectionist, seriously– nothing will hinder your prayer life like thinking your prayer notebook needs to be perfectly organized and beautiful. Just jump in and start praying. Cross things out. Write in new requests. Mark the things that God does– Mom and I both use a red star to signify an answered prayer.
So. My binder has eight sections– one for daily prayers and then one for each day of the week. In the daily section I usually have two running pages– one with members of my immediate family (husband and kids), and one with specific needs I have been led to pray for daily. I’m not always great at updating the page for Art and the kids, because I pray for them so regularly that I know when new little needs pop up. My other daily page includes urgent health needs, people walking through tragedies or other hard times, and a few friends I just really have been burdened to pray for regularly. I honestly don’t always pray out loud for everything on that page, but the reminder is there daily and I don’t forget to pray for things this way. When the page fills up or gets too messy, I transfer everything without a red star onto a new page and off we go.
Each daily section includes a couple of pages with different people or things to pray about. For example, Sunday includes extra prayer for our church– for those teaching to have wisdom, for unity, for safety for those who drive, for God to work in our hearts. I pray extra for my husband as well on Sunday mornings, because the enemy attacks pastors on Sunday. He needs my prayers. Your pastor needs yours. Other days remind me to pray for members of our extended family– parents, siblings, etc.; our nation; our marriage; financial needs; etc. Each day I have listed one of our sister churches and I pray for each one in our area fellowship once a week. I also pray through our list of supported missionaries each week.
Because we are in a small church, I am blessed to be able to pray for each member and regular attender at least once a week. Each family has a spot in my notebook and I do my best to keep requests updated. Doing this has removed that terrible guilt that comes when you say you’ll pray for someone and then forget to. Seriously. Write it down. Pray. We need each other. There is nothing as precious as knowing someone is praying for me! Be that precious person to someone. You might be the only person who prays for them today. Even if you don’t have the time to pray through your church directory, ask God to show you a few people that really need a prayer warrior, and then determine to be that person. We will never know this side of eternity how effective our prayers have been, but we have been promised that they avail much.
A few years ago I came across calendars that gave me a specific aspect of spiritual growth to pray for for my husband, for my kids, and for myself. These suggest things to pray for daily throughout the month. For example, today I prayed for my children to know peace and to be peacemakers. I prayed for Art to glorify God in his hobbies and activities. And I prayed for myself to be guarded against deception and to believe what is True. These calendars are available online if you google them. I just have mine in the daily sections, and I switch everything at the beginning of a new month. Most of these include Scripture references and sometimes actual verses to pray over my family members, and they serve as a guide to get me praying at least a little deeper for the people in my home.
And that’s how I do supplication. Again, I would encourage you not to get hung up on everything being perfect. Just jump in. Start small. Pray. Adore your great God. Confess your sin and your deep need for Him. Thank Him for His unfailing goodness. And come boldly before His throne with your requests, knowing He hears you and loves you.
I have a few more thoughts about prayer before I finish this little series, but they will have to wait for another night. Thank you to those of you who have told me that you’re reading these and that they are meaningful. I hope that I never come across as someone who considers herself a prayer expert. God has been so good to me, and every bit of growth in my prayer life has been because of His amazing grace. I am here to testify– God has changed my life through prayer and His Word. And He will do the same for you.