If there’s a part of prayer that few Christians need encouragement to include, it’s supplication. One of the privileges of redemption is our adoption, the fact that our union with Christ grants us the status as God’s sons. As Paul writes: “For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith” (Gal. 3:26). Since we are all sons, we have the privilege of crying out to God in prayer—to ask our heavenly Father to meet our needs, or in other words, to supplicate. The opening words of the Lord’s Prayer powerfully capture this truth when we say, “Our Father, who art in heaven” (Matt. 6:9). What a joy that we can call out to God in prayer and do so in an intimate way, as Paul writes: “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have receive the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father’” (Rom. 8:15)! In Christ, God is no longer our Judge but our Father who provides for every one of our needs, both great and small. Christ’s words have always been a source of encouragement to me in this regard—when we ask our heavenly Father for bread, he does not give us a stone or a serpent (Matt. 7:9-12).
But in addition to this, one of the great sources of comfort regarding our supplications is that we can take any need to our Father in prayer, however great or small. If God clothes the lilies of the field in glorious splendor, how much more will he care for his children (Matt. 6:28)? In Paul’s words: “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things” (Rom. 8:32)? Prayer is the place where we can lay ourselves bare before our heavenly Father and lean completely upon his tender care and know that he will hear our cries. Never hesitate, therefore, to take your every need to your Father in prayer. But there is another important dimension of supplication that we should not forget.
When we pray the words, “Our Father who art in heaven,” we should never forget the first person personal pronoun that starts the prayer, “Our.” In other words, we are not alone when we approach our heavenly Father but merely one of his many sons and daughters through the Spirit-applied redemption of Christ. Since we are united to Christ, then we are united to one another, and if united to one another, then we should quite obviously supplicate for one another. While we can most assuredly bring our own needs before God’s throne in prayer, we should never be so self-focused that we lose sight of the needs of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. When our fellow Christians suffer, I believe one of the reasons they can feel isolated and alone is that few pray for them. When we pray for a suffering person I think we can gain a greater degree of concern and sympathy than if we are indifferent to their plight. How regularly, for example, do we lift up in prayer those in our very own churches who are suffering from long-term illness? How often to we intercede in prayer on behalf of a wayward brother or sister? When we intercede for others in prayer, we live out the mind of Christ as we consider the needs of others and lift them up in prayer (Phil. 2:4-5).
Rejoice that you can go to the creator of the heavens and earth and bring your every need and concern to him. Bring your needs great and small but also have the mind of Christ and intercede for others as you pray to our triune God.