To enhance our understanding of Scripture, the study of one word can be profitable. For instance, the
word "supplication" is found 60 times in the Bible - 53 times in the Old Testament and seven times in
the New Testament. Although we usually think of it as prayer, it is used along with pray or
prayer in 31 of those verses so it must have a specific meaning.
Checking an English dictionary we find it is a noun defined as a humble entreaty or petition. The
Greek word for supplication is deesis meaning to call in time of need and implies bending down,
bowing or kneeling in submission.
For example 1 Kings 8:54 "And it came about when Solomon had finished praying this entire prayer
and supplication to the Lord, he arose from before the altar of the Lord,
from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread toward heaven."
Phil. 4:6 "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let
your requests be made known to God" is another example of deesis.
The same word is also used in connection with crying out to God:
2 Chron. 6:19 "Yet have regard to the prayer of Thy servant and to his supplication, O Lord my God,
to listen to the cry and to the prayer which Thy servant prays before Thee."
Psalm 28:2 "Hear the voice of my supplication when I cry to Thee for help........"
Weeping is associated with supplication in Jeremiah 3:21 "A voice is heard on the bare heights, the
weeping and the supplications of the sons of Israel; because they have perverted their way, they have
forgotten the Lord their God."
Although supplication is not used in these verses, compare them with its meaning:
Exodus 2:23 ".......the king of Egypt died. And the sons of Israel sighed because of the bondage and
they cried out; and their cry for help because of their bondage rose up to God."
Psalm 34:6 "This poor man cried and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles."
Matthew 14:30 "but seeing the wind, he (Peter) became afraid and beginning to sink, he cried out 'Lord, save me.' "
Consider this admonition by Paul in 1 Timothy 2:1,2 "First of all then I urge that entreaties and prayers,
petitions and thanksgiving be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, in order
that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity."
Not only will a study of supplication give more meaningful insight into
many Scriptures but it will change our concept of prayer. To make supplication (deesis) for
our pastor and church, for our country and its leaders, and for our neighbor with the same urgency as for
our sick child is effective prayer that "can accomplish much." (James 5:16b)