As we look at what the Scriptures say about prayer, we find that prayer has four major components that can be summarized with the acrostic ACTS: adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication. Having considered adoration, confession, and thanksgiving, we will today look at supplication. Supplication is our making our requests known to God. Whether we are making requests known for ourselves or for other people, we are engaging in supplication.
You may notice that supplication comes last in our acrostic, which probably differs from the practice of many of us. After all, many of our prayers consist only or mainly of supplication. We ask the Lord for many things, sometimes forgetting to adore Him, to thank Him, and to confess our sins to Him. This should not be. Of course, we are to present our requests to the Lord. Paul tells us in today’s passage to let our “requests be made known to God” (Phil. 4:6). Jesus tells us in the parable of the persistent widow to continue to make our needs known to God (Luke 18:1–8). So, it is right and good to ask things of our Creator. We just need to take care that our prayer life does not become unbalanced, that we spend an inordinate amount of time asking the Lord for things and not enough time adoring Him, thanking Him, and confessing our sins to Him.
When it comes to our supplication, Scripture has some encouraging things to tell us. First, Hebrews 7:25 indicates that Jesus ever lives to make intercession for us. As we pray to the Father, making our needs and desires known to Him, we are not praying alone. Jesus is praying with us and for us. He takes our requests and presents them to the Father, for we come to the Father only through the Son (John 14:6; Rom. 8:34). In fact, the mediating work of Jesus as the One who intercedes for us reminds us that the Father has a favorable disposition toward us and wants to hear and answer our prayers. He loves us in and through Christ, and we come to Him in the name of Christ as His favored children (John 17:23).
Second, Romans 8:26–27 says that the Holy Spirit also intercedes for us “with groanings too deep for words.” We do not always know what to pray for, so the Spirit takes our requests and shapes them so that they conform to God’s will. He cleanses our prayers and assists us in praying in an unselfish manner.