Difference between Prayer and Supplication

By: | Updated: Jun-14, 2021
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In terms of religion, prayer is one of the most significant religious acts performed by a person, which is performed by a person with a certain objective. The act of prayer is also known as supplication, worship, devotion, etc. Prayer is performed by a person with a hope that his/her prayers will be answered by the Almighty God. There are various types of prayers and each prayer has its own meaning and significance. There are also some key differences between the act of prayer and supplication. Therefore, this article aims to highlight the differences between prayer and supplication.

Summary Table

Prayer Supplication
Performed at fixed times Can be performed at any time.
Said by everyone. Not compulsory.
To glorify God. To seek a favor from God.
Free from emotions. Emotional.


Difference between Prayer and Supplication

Prayer is the offering of the soul to God, in an address of praise, petition, or thanksgiving. Prayer is offered in different ways and for different purposes. Prayer may be said aloud or silently; it may be made for a particular person or group, or for all men; it may be made for the living or the dead; it may be offered privately or publicly. The basic definition of prayer is “a solemn petition to God for mercy or grace.”

There are three kinds of prayer: vocal, mental, and contemplative. Vocal prayer is the prayer that is made with the mouth and heard by others. Mental prayer is that which is made with the mind alone. In addition to that, contemplative prayer is that which is made in silence, when the mind and heart are absorbed in God.

The Quran describes three different types of prayers; two of them are in this world and one after death. The first one is described as a form of devotion to God while sitting, standing or lying down on your side. The second type of prayer mentioned in the Quran describes a group of believers praying together at night. This type of prayer is performed at night after completing daily prayers or during Ramadan when Muslims fast during the day. The third type described in the Quran is where souls pray for their Lord’s forgiveness on Judgement Day. This type of prayer does not involve any bodily movement but involves all our faculties and our spirit (heart).

The act of prayer has been around since the beginning of time. It is hard to trace the exact date or time when prayer was invented, but it is known that all religions use some form of prayer. The first recorded prayer dates back to 4000 B.C. It was discovered in a clay tablet that was found in Mesopotamia (now Iraq). The tablet had a Sumerian prayer on it and is the oldest surviving written prayers in the world.

The word “prayer” comes from the Latin word “precari” which means “to ask for something earnestly.” Prayer has been around for thousands of years, and has been used in almost every culture in the world.

In the Jewish religion, prayer is known as “tefillah” which means “prayer.” The main focus of Jewish prayer is to praise God and to ask for forgiveness. In the Jewish religion, prayers are made three times a day. There are morning prayers, afternoon prayers, and evening prayers. The prayer leader (or the rabbi) says prayers in Hebrew and the rest of the congregation repeats what he says. Before prayer begins, there is a reading from the Torah.

In Buddhism, it is believed that everything in life happens by fate or destiny and there is nothing you can do about it; you can only try to accept it. Buddhists believe that praying to God will not change their fate because everything has already been written by fate. They believe that they should be grateful for what they have in life and to accept what happens to them. Buddhists do not worship God, but they pray to Buddha. When a Buddhist prays, he/she kneels and puts his/her hands together in front of him/her face. They also pray before meals.

The term “supplication,” however, is not very popular in English. The word is derived from the Latin word supplicare, which means “to beg.” When we say “supplication,” we refer to a formal, serious request or prayer to God.

Prayer vs Supplication

A prayer is a formal ritualistic action to connect with God. Prayer is not a supplication, it is an address to God and not a petition. The former is to glorify God, while the latter is to seek a favor from God. In a prayer, one must be free from all emotions. Prayer is formal, but supplication is emotional.

For example, in Islam, the Arabic word “Salat” is the word for prayer. It is an obligatory duty for all Muslims to perform five times a day.

The Arabic word “Du’a” means supplication. It is an act of worship performed in any form of expression, except the obligatory prayer, by the person who wants to make a request from Allah.

One can make a supplication when he wakes up in the morning or before going to bed at night or during his travel etc. The main purpose of supplication is to make a request from Allah Almighty and beseech Him. The result of supplication may either be granted or denied by Allah Almighty.

Other religions such as Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism etc. also practice prayer by offering prayers to God, but the practice of supplication is more prominent in Islam. This is because, the Islamic religion was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as a “complete way of life”. Hence, Islam not only encompasses all aspects of worship, but also includes the worldly affairs. Hence, it is mandatory for a Muslim to pray five times a day and make supplications to Allah Almighty in between the obligatory prayers.

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