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21 December, 2014

What is Prayer? Prayer is Supplication and Supping with Jesus 4

Prayer is SUPPLICATION. In Paul's letter to the church at Ephesus, we find these words: "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit." And again, in his letter to the saints at Philippi, he says, "But in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God." He does not mean that prayer is one thing, and supplication something else. Supplication is prayer.

Petition is for the obtaining of some special object, for which there is to be the definite act of faith. Supplication is not so much a desire for the obtaining of any special object — as a more general longing and intense love for God and his glory. There is not such a definite act of faith — but an earnest pleading with a submission to the will of God. Supplication is more earnest and intense than petition — and rises above it into a longing, yearning, pleading in love with a resignation to the divine will. Many people pray the prayer of petition — but fewer pray the prayer of supplication.

Prayer is a pouring out of the soul to God. I do not attempt to discriminate between "supplication" and "pouring out the soul," for my mind is scarcely capable of conceiving any difference. The latter term seems to me to be but another form of expression, which may enable us to grasp more clearly the full meaning of the other. By the expression "pouring out of the soul" we can see more distinctly the labor and intensity of supplication.

Hannah, in her prayer, did not speak audibly. She spoke only in her heart. Her lips moved as in the formation of words — but there was no voice. In reply to the high priests accusation, she said, "I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink — but have poured out my soul before the Lord." As David's soul was panting after God and tears were his food day and night, he exclaims, "I pour out my soul within me." And again, when beholding God as his strength and refuge, he said, "Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us." Pouring out the soul is deep, close communion with God. It is the losing of consciousness of earth and earthly things — and the bringing of the soul up into the presence of God. It is leaving the body behind, so to speak, and talking to God in the spirit. Every Christian should occasionally have such communion with the Lord.

Prayer is a SUPPING with Jesus. The voice that was heard by one in the Spirit said, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." Rev. 3:20. Elsewhere we said something about conceiving of God both as being on his throne — and as being a companion by our side, and again as an abiding guest in our heart. The text just quoted pictures him to us as abiding in our hearts. There we can commune with him. We sup with him, and he sups with us. The heart is the communion chamber.

In the Canticles we read, "While the king sits at his table, my spikenard sends forth the smell thereof." Jesus brings his viands of grace and places them on the table — and we bring our viands of joy, praise, and thanksgiving and place them on the table, and then we sup — Jesus and we. We sup of His grace to the full need and satisfaction of our souls — and He sups of the joy and the praise we bring, and delights himself in their sweetness and fragrance. And should we have burdens or sorrows, we may bring them, too — and he will share them with us. Bless his name! This is prayer.