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Can You Hear Me Now? Supplication


A nun I know once told me she kept begging God to take her character defects away from her. After years of this prayer, God finally got back to her: I'm not going to take anything away from you, you have to give it to me.

Anne Lamott, Help Thanks Wow: The Three Essential Prayers

I first crossed paths with them in the housewares department; a young dad pushing his two-year-old son in a cart with his four-year-old daughter skipping along close beside. He was obviously passing through this department on the way to his desired destination, judging by the hurried pace with which he was moving. 

As they whirred past, I overheard the little boy ask his dad if he would buy something for him, to which his father replied, “If you’re patient, I’ll stop and get some ice cream treats on our way home.”  

Without missing a beat the little girl responded, “Well, I was actually thinking candy, but that’s alright.”  

But, apparently it really wasn’t alright, because as I turned the corner, I heard her say, just a tad bit louder, “Well, I was actually thinking candy, but that’s alright.” 

I couldn’t help but chuckle the next time I heard her little voice coming from the next aisle repeating her plea once more. Perhaps she was hoping that the third time would be the charm. 

I have no idea if she got her wish or not, but, her words have stuck with me ever since.

Mostly because over the past few weeks, we gals at Heart Matters have been writing about the various aspects of prayer using the acronym A.C.T.S.−which stands for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication.

And guess whose turn it was to write about supplication? Yep! You guessed it, me!

But, what exactly is supplication? That word doesn’t get used much these days. Somehow I had a sneaking suspicion that little four-year-old may have been on to something and she didn't even know it. 

So, I turned to my trusty dictionary to see if I could find some fresh ideas on this old 15th century term. And the definition I found was enlightening indeed.

According to Webster's, supplication means to make a humble entreaty. Then I dug a bit deeper and jotted down the meaning of entreaty: to plead with, implore, appeal, negotiate, hint at or suggest in hopes of persuading another, or in the case of prayer, God, to see things or do things the way we hope he will. 

I think most of us have the entreaty thing down pat. I know I've always thought of the term supplication as bringing my requests and heart pleas before God.  

But...that is only half the meaning.   

I then looked up the word humble. And that changed everything! Because when we entreat God with a humble heart, we plead our case before him with a spirit of deference...of surrender. We relinquish our will, our hopes, our yearnings to him to determine the final decision. Humbly entreating God means we are willing to comply with, readily yield to or accept whatever answer he chooses. Even if we get no answer at all or the answer is anything but what we had hoped for.

And that's where things get tricky. Because, truth is, it’s not always easy to accept heaven's answers sometimes...especially when they aren’t exactly what we had in mind.  

That's when our prayers tend more toward my little four-year-old friends, I was thinking candy, but, that's alright."

They begin sounding something like this...

I would’ve really liked that job promotion, God, but that’s alright. 

I had really been thinking a newer model car, but, this works...I guess. 

I was praying for healing, God, but partial healing will do, I s'pose.

But is it really? Is it really alright? Can we truly accept the way God chooses to answer? The proof is in the pudding, as they say.

We will know that we've made a humble entreaty when we are able to say that's alright and truly mean it. When we can move forward without self-pity, resentment or hostility when the job promotion falls through or the car isn't exactly what we had been dreaming of or when healing doesn't happen as quickly as we had hoped, or healing comes, but, it is in heaven and not here on earth. 

We will know that we've come before God in true supplication−when our hearts find rest in the knowledge that God has some other plan for us.  

Is it easy? Not at first. But, when we entrust ourselves and our entreaties to God, God gives us himself. And as we walk with him through those days of relinquishment, we find that Yes! It really is alright! 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7





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