We now come to the last letter of our acronym - ACTS. We are at Supplication. Dr. John R. Rice wrote a fairly thick book basically saying that prayer is asking or what we think of as supplication. I agree with this premise. However, in study for this message I found it interesting that one of the Hebrew words translated supplication, chalah, comes from a root that also can mean to be rubbed or worn, weak, sick, afflicted, grieved, to stroke in flattery as well as entreat. I strongly urge you to word studies because as you see this gives not only the concept of asking, but also a idea as to what state of being or emotion we can be in to make supplication to God.
Why do I come to God in supplication? Because life has consistently rubbed me so hard that I am feeling worn. Temptations are all around me and I feel weak. I am sick and maybe troubled or afflicted over what the diagnoses might be. Enemies and false brethren might also afflict us. I am grieved over a divorce or death of a loved one. I may have a special desire that I want to entreat the Lord to fulfill it. While flattery is not good, I may just want to be humble and come before the Lord asking Him for something but adding a few more words of adoration or appeal to His mercy or other part of His character as the reason for His granting it versus my own righteousness. Just in this one word and it’s meaning I can see many types of supplication. This is why study is so important for a Christian. There is so much to be found in His Word that will get us through the nasty now and now and prepare our hearts to live with Him in the sweet by and by.
Let’s see what else the Word has for us on this subject.
1 Tim 2:1-3
1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; (KJV)
As you can see from this passage, there are more types of prayers than what we used to spell ACTS. We shall do a word study of those other prayers next week. I think it is good to start with this group of verses to show that supplications and prayers are not all about us. They are to be made for all men. We tend to pray too much for ourselves and not much for others. We have religious freedom in this country, but it is slowly being taken away from us and we are not being allowed to live quietly and peacefully.
According to this passage, that might be for two reasons. First, we are more involved with politics than we are praying for those in authority. To be honest, I probably prayed more that God would remove the previous President than I did for him to do right. That was hard to do, but I, and the rest of us, should have done more of it.
Secondly, we are not living in godliness and honesty. Often, we get a leader representative of our nation rather than what we need. We have many liars and immoral people who have a form of religion or godliness that enjoy power and what opportunities it brings. Hence, our last administration was a shining example of who we are as a nation. Even true Christians are too wrapped up in materialism and worldly things and stretch the truth.
Our goals as Christians are not to be in political power, but to be in resurrection power and live a Christian life. As that life makes an impact upon individuals and families we will eventually make an impact on the government not through the polls, but through the heart. Should we vote? Yes, but the ballot will not be the salvation of this nation. As I surf the net I come across individuals who want to trust in the gun to gain them freedom. That is ridiculous. We need only look around the world and see that all guns do is assure continual revolt and needless pain and death. The weapons of our warfare are spiritual and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty. We need to fight the good fight of faith and pray for more intervention of the Spirit in the lives of leader and average citizen alike. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God.
1 Tim 5:5 Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day. (KJV)
The Greek word for supplications is deeis meaning a petition or a request. I chose this passage because it not only affirms the command to pray without ceasing, but also shows that there is a place for people to serve even when they are old and seemingly helpless. (I Thessalonians 5:17)
The practice was to have the church provide the needs of a widow sixty and above who had no kin to care for her. We have turned that over to Social Security and nursing homes and have missed a great blessing as well as shutting down a source of power in the Church. Her needs being met, she would have time to pray for the church and the congregation day and night. Folks who are home living off of Social Security or living in a nursing home can still do this, but it would have been better had we followed the Scripture’s pattern. There is power in obedience and we may be losing some of that power by failure to be their primary caregiver.
These ladies would be the strongest link in the prayer chain. If you understand anything about aging, you know that often sleep patterns are different. Some go to bed with the chickens but are up before the rooster whereas others stay up to two and three in the morning. Most of us rush our prayers in somewhere between 8-5 with a short one upon rising and right before we collapse into bed. These ladies have time and are not rushed. When Mrs. Henderson, the lady who prayed for me while I was in college passed away I lost a lot. It took me years to find another lady, Mrs. Alma Trimble, who prays for me at times even at 4AM. The Church needs ladies like this who will take up the ministry of supplication. Thy may not have great wealth or health, but they have the ability to be the source of great power in the kingdom. Oh, that we would make supplication for women to take on this ministry.
17 Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord’s sake.
18 O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies. (KJV)
We need to make supplications for our church and the Church in general for it is pretty desolate. There are pockets of folks that are in God’s will and seeing him work mightily among them, but these are rare. Many churches see numbers and money as signs of God’s blessing, but they forget that the dead church of Laodicea was rich. (Rev 3:14-18) When the Church is right with God it turns the world upside down as in Acts and the culture changes. Today, we see culture changing the Church so much that many are churches in name, but no longer part of the true Church.
Our cities are desolate when it comes to strong families and neighborhoods. Business people have no integrity and neglect the warning of James in regards to caring for their employees. (James 5:1-6) It is more common for our leaders to lie than speak the truth. Kids not only disrespect their parents and authority, but also disrespect themselves by doing drugs and getting involved with gangs. They practice promiscuity and even prostitute themselves at an early age. Baby killing is rampant and mothers even throw their newborns in dumpsters. Child molesters steal and kill five year olds. Priests who molest children are protected by their organization.
Yes, we need to make many supplications to God for our churches and cities not for our righteousness, but for His great mercies and His sake. We have no righteousness. That is one thing common among all men. We need His mercies. This country was founded upon the Bible and His name and thus we can ask the Lord to fix our mess for His name’s sake. This country is considered a Christian nation by the world and this country gives many reasons for the heathen to blaspheme His name. He can heal this land, but since we are near Him with our lips and far from Him in our hearts, it is more likely that He will judge it. We do not know how close that judgment is, but we need to make supplications to His mercy in hopes that He might still heal.
22 For I said in my haste, I am cut off from before thine eyes: nevertheless thou heardest the voice of my supplications when I cried unto thee.
23 O love the LORD, all ye his saints: for the LORD preserveth the faithful, and plentifully rewardeth the proud doer.
24 Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD. (KJV)
Here the Hebrew word translated as supplications means earnest or serious prayer and that is the only way to get a prayer or petition answered is to be serious about it. Double minded people do not get anything from Him. (James 1:6-8) We need to make earnest prayer to the Lord because when He answers them it gives us great hope in Him. As David, we may think that we are cut off from Him because He d0es not answer our petitions according to our time frame, but He answers on time. His answer assures us of His promise to preserve the faithful and allows us to rest in Him. However, those answers to us also are a warning to the proud or wicked that He will deal with them as well. His answer gives us to courage and strengthens our inner man or heart to stand for Him and increases our love for Him that we might walk in His ways and rejoice in His statutes.
1 Hear my prayer, O LORD, give ear to my supplications: in thy faithfulness answer me, and in thy righteousness.
2 And enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified. (KJV)
Again we see that it is the faithfulness and righteousness of God that gets us anything from Him. If we try to ask for something because of our goodness we are asking God to judge us. If He analyzes us we will come up way short. We cannot be justified or declared morally right by our works.
Besides that we do not always see the big picture. God may not want to give us something because we have been disobedient, but rather because it is no good for us. At times, He gives us things in His mercy to cause us to repent and return to Him. If my mother would have only fed and clothed me when I was good, I would have been an emaciated naked boy.
Hezekiah asked God to spare his life because of his practical righteousness. Indeed, Hezekiah was a very good king and he was very young and did not have an heir. From Hezekiah’s viewpoint, he was being punished or at least not being very blessed for being a good king. God heard his reasonings and granted him fifteen more years and an heir.
I do not know if knowing exactly when you are going to die is a good thing or not. It might help you live more circumspectly, but what about that last day? Watching the clock all day wondering when the exact hour might be could be maddening, but then again if you knew you were right with God you might just sit down with your family and sing songs of praise until you pass.
Even with that, there was a major problem. Hezekiah’s son Manasseh was to be a very wicked king. From Hezekiah’s viewpoint, it did not look like being a good king was paying off. However, God wanted to spare him from the shame of having such an offspring and wanted to spare Israel as well. His son wiped out all the good that Hezekiah did. He could have had a great epitaph, but now it was marred for every time the wicked Manasseh would be mentioned he would be remembered as the son of Hezekiah.
We need to make our petitions and allow God to answer in His faithfulness and righteousness because then we will know that all will be well. He only is omniscient. We only see the present, but He sees the future and knows the ramifications of what we are asking. Many of us ask God to make us rich, but He knows that most of us could not handle it well or that the inheritance may cause our kids to forget God and live wasted lives. Let Him be God and rejoice in that rather than trying to twist His arm by our right as a "good" servant. (Luke 17:7-10)
6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (KJV)
We need to quit worrying. We worry about so many things that we have no control over. (Matt 6:25-34; 10:28-31) We are to take everything to God with thanksgiving. Thanksgiving before the prayer is answered? Absolutely!!! God wants us to trust Him. We thank Him no matter what answer may come for we know that the Judge of all the earth shall do right!!!
When we can really come to grips with that and fall down before Him in absolute faith and thanksgiving we will start to know true peace. When your world seems to be a nuclear wasteland you can be at peace because though the world, flesh or the devil split the atoms of your world, you serve the God Who made the atom and by Whom all things are held together and He will give you beauty for ashes!!!
8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. (KJV)
This is the best passage to close on. If we think are thinking on these things, then we can pray with Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and making the right Supplications. We will see our prayers answered and have joyful spirits of power, love and a sound mind. This is what the brethren and the unbelieving need to see in us. When they see God working among His people they will be drawn to Him by the love they see in us for Him, for each other and the lost!