What is the difference between intercessory prayer and supplication? Along with prayers of petition, these terms are often used interchangeably. Perhaps supplication includes a quality of looking to God’s overall power and the need for the petitioner to be especially cognizant of that power.
154. Prayer of supplication is an expression of a heart that trusts in God and realizes that of itself it can do nothing. The life of God’s faithful people is marked by constant supplication born of faith-filled love and great confidence. Let us not downplay prayer of petition, which so often calms our hearts and helps us persevere in hope. Prayer of intercession has particular value, for it is an act of trust in God and, at the same time, an expression of love for our neighbor. There are those who think, based on a one-sided spirituality, that prayer should be unalloyed contemplation of God, free of all distraction, as if the names and faces of others were somehow an intrusion to be avoided. Yet in reality, our prayer will be all the more pleasing to God and more effective for our growth in holiness if, through intercession, we attempt to practice the twofold commandment that Jesus left us.
God knows everything, and as the Scriptures remind us, before we even speak a need, God is aware of it. So, why ask?
Intercessory prayer is an expression of our fraternal concern for others, since we are able to embrace their lives, their deepest troubles and their loftiest dreams. Of those who commit themselves generously to intercessory prayer we can apply the words of Scripture: “This is a man who loves the brethren and prays much for the people” (2 Maccabees 15:14).
Some people have the spiritual gift–a knack if you will–for praying for others. It still doesn’t exclude us from the practice any more than if we are the weakest, most out-of-tune singer in the assembly. We are still urged to do it.