One of the essential disciplines in prayer is persistence. Today, we’re going to look at a great example of persistence in prayer.
Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs. And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour. (Mat 15:21-28)
The heroin of this story was in a heartbreaking situation – her young daughter was demon possessed. She couldn’t fix the problem, so she went to Jesus for help. She was wise. But before she got the help she came for, she had to overcome many obstacles.
First, she was not Jewish. Mark tells us that she was Greek (Mar 7:25). The Jews didn’t have a very high opinion of Gentiles. Even so, she came to Jesus for help.
Next, notice that she had to seek Jesus. She had to make the effort to find out where He was and go to Him. It also meant leaving her daughter – and who knows what might have happened while she was gone. She had to change her routine and make a special effort to reach Christ.
She had to endure the Savior’s silence. Matthew tells us that “he answered her not a word.” She realized, though, that no answer is not a no. He didn’t say “yes,” but He hadn’t said “no,” yet, either.
Notice that the disciples wanted Jesus to send her away. They weren’t very compassionate. They didn’t share her burden. To them, she was a pest. If she was following Christ and they were complaining to Christ about her, she probably heard them. How would you react if you came to church, brokenhearted and in need, and the membership gathered around the pastor and said, “Pastor, tell this woman to leave – she’s disrupting our service.” You’d probably storm out before the pastor even had a chance to respond. “What a bunch of hypocrites,” you’d say to yourself. “If that’s what this church is like, who needs them?” But this woman didn’t let these cold-hearted Christians turn her away.
When Jesus did finally respond to her, He wasn’t very encouraging. “You’re not in my target demographic,” was the essence of His reply. Well, that’s not exactly a “no,” either, so she persisted. In fact, she persisted elegantly. Listen to her reply:
“Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”
She agreed with Jesus.
- She didn’t ask, “Why them and not me?”
- She called Him Lord, acknowledging His right to make the rules.
- She spoke of herself as a dog and Jesus as her Master.
- She spoke of this need, which was impossible for her to meet, as a crumb, a trifle for Jesus to deal with. She publicly professed her confidence in His power.
Christ responded to her statement of faith in two ways. He commended her publicly for her great faith and He granted her request.
What About You?
- Are you willing to adjust your routine and inconvenience yourself to get hold of Jesus in prayer?
- Do you stop praying if He is silent for a time?
- Do you get discouraged and quit praying if others don’t share your burden?
- Do you let anything other than a clean “no” from Heaven stop you?
- Do you have the kind of faith this woman had: submitted, humble, persistent, and publicly confident in Christ?