Fervent Prayer continued...
Another instance wherein we see the reward of insistence, persistence and fervency, even going so far as seeing the heart of Jesus moved, is the case of the Canaanite woman pleading on behalf of her daughter, who was demon-possessed.
Matthew 15:22-23, “And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, ‘Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.’ But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, ‘Send her away, for she cries out after us.’”
So here was a woman who was crying after Jesus to have mercy on her daughter, and not only doesn’t Jesus answer her, His disciples begin to urge him to send her away because her constant cries were disturbing them.
Now before the ‘I would never do that’ choir starts warming up their vocal chords, let’s admit it, we’ve all had bad days, we’ve all had days when we couldn’t stand ourselves, never mind total strangers yelling after us as we’re walking down the street. What the disciples did might have been insensitive, but let’s not judge them too harshly, for they were human, just as you and I are human, predisposed to being short tempered, strong willed, irascible, and grumpy like the rest of us.
Personally, I don’t deal well with compliments, praises, or accolades. It’s just who I am. I never know how to respond when someone says, ‘great sermon, or great teaching.’ It makes me feel awkward, and uncomfortable, because first of all it wasn’t my sermon or my teaching, it was God’s, and second of all, all I did, was preach the word of God.
Most of the time, after I’m done speaking and someone comes up to give me a compliment, I mumble a thank you, point to the Bible, and shrug my shoulders.
Even though it’s just who I am, and how I react to the situation, I’ve been accused of feigning humility, of being too proud to talk to people who just want to complement me, of getting too big for my britches, (which happens during winter hibernation, but I tend to work off the weight before summer rolls around), of being aloof, and even of thinking myself better than my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
The point I’m trying to make, is that men read more into a given situation or a certain action than was there to begin with.
The disciples were bothered by this woman’s constant cries, and they came and asked Jesus if He could send her away. That was it. They didn’t hate Canaanites, they didn’t hate women, and they didn’t hate Canaanite women.
Matthew 15:24-25, “But He answered and said, ‘I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’ Then she came and worshipped Him, saying, ‘Lord, help me!’”
If there is a lesson to be learned from the Canaanite woman, it is that of persistence and fervency. Too many of us give up on the first try, and even that first try isn’t really our best. Because the seed of doubt still rests in our heart, because we are fearful of standing fully on the promises of God and having no other safety nets, we do not cry out as the Canaanite woman ‘Lord, help me!’ The Canaanite woman did not quantify her prayer with an ‘if you can, if you have the time, if it’s not too much trouble, if you can fit it into your schedule,’ she cried out, ‘Lord, help me!’
By her declarative plea, we can ascertain that this woman had nowhere else to go. She had run out of options, she had knocked on her last door, entreated upon her last friend, and now Jesus was all that remained for her in the entire world.
She did not approach Christ with the mindset that if He didn’t answer her prayer she’d go on to the next guy, she did not approach Christ with the mindset that if Jesus couldn’t heal her daughter she would just spend the cash and get the treatment, Jesus was her last and only option.
There was nowhere else to go for this woman, and she knew it. Because she knew that Jesus was he last viable hope to see her daughter freed of her possession, her plea was fervent and passionate, and though Jesus told her He had been sent exclusively to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, she pressed on, persevered, and cried out once more, ‘Lord, help me!’
Matthew 15:25-28, “But He answered and said, ‘It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.’ And she said, ‘True, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.’ Then Jesus answered and said to her, ‘O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.’ And her daughter was healed from that very hour.”
It is impossible to pray fervently, when we leave ourselves an out. If in the back of our minds there is the thought, ‘well, if God doesn’t answer my prayer at least I have such and such to fall back on,’ then we will never be able to pray a fervent prayer as this Canaanite woman prayed.
Jesus tested this woman’s persistence, faith, and conviction not once or twice, but multiple times, and each time she persevered, and held true to her petition. She did not waiver, she did not feel insulted, she did not threaten to sue because Jesus had compared her to a little dog…she needed help, and she knew Jesus was the only one who could help her.
In the end, even Jesus was impressed by her faith calling it great, and knowing Jesus was not given to exaggeration, her faith must have been great indeed. Faith, persistence, humility, and dependency are the ingredients that make up fervent prayer. Without these, we will never know what it is to pray with fervency.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.