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Prayer vs. Supplication: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 19, 2023
Prayer is a general act of communicating with a deity, while supplication is a specific plea or request within that act.

Key Differences

Prayer is a broad term that encompasses various forms of communication with a higher power, deity, or the divine. Supplication, on the other hand, is a specific type of prayer where one makes earnest requests or pleas.
In prayer, an individual might be expressing gratitude, adoration, confession, or seeking guidance. Supplication particularly emphasizes the act of humbly asking for something. The heart of prayer can be many things, from simply talking to God to seeking inner peace.
Supplication carries an undertone of urgency and often arises from a deeper sense of need or desire. It's important to note that while all supplications are prayers, not all prayers are supplications.
For instance, a prayer of thanksgiving is a form of prayer, but it is not a supplication as it doesn't involve making a request.

Comparison Chart


Act of communicating with a deity
Earnest plea or request


Broad and varied
Specific to requests


Can be thankful, confessional, adoring, etc.
Usually humble and urgent


Thanksgiving, adoration, confession
Petitions, intercessions


Encompasses various forms of spiritual talk
A subset of prayer focused on requests

Prayer and Supplication Definitions


A spiritual practice across many religions.
Prayer is central to many faith traditions.


An urgent ask stemming from need or desire.
Her supplication was for her family's safety.


An expression of gratitude or adoration.
His morning prayer is always filled with thankfulness.


A humble plea or request to a deity.
He raised his hands in supplication, seeking help.


Can be both communal or individual.
The community gathered for a group prayer.


A specific form of prayer focused on petitions.
The monk's supplication was for wisdom and understanding.


A communication with God or a deity.
Every night, she says a prayer before going to bed.


Emphasizes the earnestness of the request.
The depth of her supplication moved the entire congregation.


Seeking guidance or inner peace.
Through prayer, he found the clarity he needed.


Often expresses dependency on a higher power.
The supplication highlighted the individual's reliance on the divine.


A reverent petition made to God, a god, or another object of worship.


To ask for humbly or earnestly, as by praying.


The act of making a reverent petition to God, a god, or another object of worship
Belief in the power of prayer.


To make a humble entreaty to; beseech.


How is supplication different from general prayer?

Supplication is a specific type of prayer focused on making humble and earnest requests.

Is every supplication a prayer?

Yes, every supplication is a type of prayer, but not all prayers are supplications.

What is prayer?

Prayer is an act of communicating with a deity or higher power.

Can a prayer be without a request?

Yes, a prayer can be an expression of gratitude, adoration, or confession without asking for anything.

Can prayers be silent?

Yes, prayers can be spoken aloud or held silently within one's heart and mind.

What's the tone of a supplication?

Supplication typically carries a tone of humility and urgency.

Can supplication be done in a group?

Yes, supplications can be made individually or communally.

Do all religions practice prayer?

While the concept and methods may vary, most religions have some form of prayer.

Are there specific times for supplication?

While some faiths have set times, supplications can generally be made at any time.

Can prayers be non-religious?

Yes, some people use prayer as a form of meditation or reflection without religious context.

How often should I pray?

The frequency of prayer varies by individual belief and personal choice.

Can supplication be about gratitude?

While supplication primarily involves requests, it can be accompanied by gratitude.

Is urgency a key element of supplication?

Yes, supplication often carries an undertone of urgency.

Can I make supplications for worldly desires?

Supplications can be for spiritual, emotional, or worldly needs based on individual beliefs.

What's the primary purpose of supplication?

The primary purpose of supplication is to make earnest pleas or requests to a higher power.

Can I make a supplication for someone else?

Yes, making supplications on behalf of others is called intercession.

Is there a specific posture for prayer?

While some religions have specific postures, prayer can be done in any manner or position.

How is supplication expressed in different cultures?

The methods and words might vary, but the essence of making humble requests remains.

Is it necessary to use formal language in prayer?

No, what's important is the sincerity of the heart, not the formality of language.

Are there different types of prayers?

Yes, besides supplication, there are prayers of adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and more.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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