What does supplication mean?
Supplication is one of several words in the Bible referring to prayer. The word is found 60 times in the Bible: 39 times in the singular and 21times in the plural; or, 53 times in the Old Testament and seven (7) times in the New Testament. It is a synonym of "prayer" and of the 58 verses where supplication is used, 31 of these verses also have some form of the word pray or prayer.
However, although supplication is prayer, it must have a specific meaning to itself. According to the word history of supplication, it refers to a bending down and indicates a bowing or kneeling in submission. 1 Kings 8:34 states, "And it was so, that when Solomon had made an end of praying all this prayer and supplication unto the LORD, he arose from before the altar of the LORD, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread up to heaven." By extension of this picture, to supplicate is to ask for humbly and earnestly. It refers most to the attitude of our prayer.
As a study aid to help understand the meaning of a Bible word, I often look at other words often found with the word I am studying. The word, supplication, is found seven (7) times in connection with crying out to God (1 Kings 8:28; 2 Chronicles 6:19; Psalm 28:2; 30:8; 31:22; 142:1; Hebrews 5:7). Consider especially Psalm 142:1, which states, "I cried unto the LORD with my voice; with my voice unto the LORD did I make my supplication." The word is also used with the idea of weeping in three (3) passages (Jeremiah 3:21; 31:9; Hosea 12:4).
Supplication, therefore, is the attitude or spirit of prayer. We bend down to God and cry out to Him for an answer. We submit to His will and to His authority. We earnestly seek His help. In this way, we make supplication to God in our prayers. May follow our example, the Lord Jesus, who "offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears" (Hebrews 5:7).