Ephesians 6:18 Supplication comes immediately after “all prayer”. What is supplication? Various verses of hymn 427 give the essence of supplication: “Jesus, lover of my soul, let me to thy bosom fly.” “Other refuge have I none, hangs my helpless soul on Thee.” “Thou of life the fountain art, freely let me take of Thee.” There is a mighty sense of the weakness of the believer, of Christ’s sufficiency in the midst of surrounding enemies. But what makes prayer into supplication is its urgency. Paul says we should be praying at all times, but not just unceasingly and not just with “all prayer”. We must be praying with supplication. It is casting ourselves on our faces and grabbing hold of the knees of the King in desperation, as sinners in the Old Testament would grab hold of the horns of the altar. It is seeking God with all of the heart in the midst of great distress, Deuteronomy 4:29.
Prayer of this sort is part of spiritual warfare. Warfare is not polite – it is life and death. Satan, the flesh, and the world are ready to cut off the believer at every point. We are often unaware that we are totally without strength and we offer up polite, little prayers. Unless we are aware that we are totally without strength we will not pray with supplication. In this warfare, supplication is like the supply line of temporal war. Without a supply line stretching from the supplies to the troops, the troops cannot be sustained. We are in the world and we have to have this supply line of supplication. We must be coming to the throne of grace, Hebrews 4:16, because of our desperate need. This supply line can be cut off by our own unwillingness to come to the throne of grace.
There is a determination, a courage needed to come to the throne of grace in this way. The Pony Express had a job to do, to deliver the mail from Missouri to California. They had to carry on through Indian attacks, through outlaw ambushes, from supply station to supply station where they could be relieved by another rider. Sometimes they would reach a supply station and it would have been destroyed with no other rider available. They couldn’t stop and say “Oh well. I’ve come as far as I was supposed to go.” No. They had a job to do and they had to be determined to ride on, often to the death.
This is the job of the believer in supplication. Genesis 18:16-33 Abraham supplicated God boldly but humbly for those in Sodom. He was trembling before the Lord but determined to plead for the sake of those who might be righteous. Genesis 32 Jacob was afraid for his family and he wrestled with God for blessing.
The believer must pray with supplication for himself, his loved ones, his neighbors, the church, the world. This is not politeness but warfare, not parlor games but warfare. This is “no holds barred” prayer, which is what God gives.