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What does 'supplication in the Spirit' mean?


Thank you for your question about prayer.

There are a few of passages in the Bible where prayer and supplication are discussed.

Ephesians 6:18 is a famous passage about spiritual warfare and the Armour of God, where Paul writes, 

praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints

In Philippians 4:6 Paul writes 

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God

In 1 Timothy 2:1 Paul again writes,

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people

and in 1 Timothy 5:5-6 says,

She who is truly a widow, left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day, but she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives

If we observe the surrounding context of each of these verses we discover that Paul is talking about prayer. Supplication is a form of prayer in which we make a request to God for something or for someone. Therefore, prayer and supplication in the Spirit, as you’ve asked, would mean that as our prayer is guided by the Holy Spirit so we can be confident that God hears our prayer and He will answer according to His will.

The word supplication shares a root word with having a need or lack of something. So the word that is translated in English in its original context gives a sense of asking God for our needs, or for things that we are lacking.

Jesus, in the Lord’s Prayer, taught us to pray, 

Give us this day our daily bread… (Matthew 6:11)

What we see coupled with the prayer of supplication is that we have faith to accompany our requests. Thus we can be certain that if we are in Christ then we have the Holy Spirit who is interceding for us to the Father.

In summary, if we have placed our trust in Christ Jesus for our salvation, he gives us the indwelling Holy Spirit who guides us in our prayer. We can be fully confident that our prayers to the Father, in the name of the Son, though the power of the Holy Spirit will be heard and answered according to the Father’s will.

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*All Scripture references are taken From The English Standard Version of the Holy Bible unless stated otherwise

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