Pray in Faith
March 9, 2021
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” (Matthew 15:22-23).
As stated in yesterday’s devotional, this woman was not a Jewess, had no previous contact with Jesus, had only heard of Him and His power to heal, yet turned away from her pagan gods, made her way to Jesus, and immediately trusted in Him as her Master and Messiah. Her faith was ‘great’ given her lack of background with Jesus. But there is another characteristic of ‘great faith’ demonstrated by this woman - her tenacity in the testing of her faith.
At her request for help, Jesus did not speak. We may consider this a rude lack of response on Jesus’ part. Some may even go so far as to say He was racist by denying to even speak to her. Thank God Jesus wasn’t strangled by a politically correct ideology raging out of control in His day! It would not have affected His agenda anyway.
Jesus was not being rude to the woman. He was testing her faith. Sometimes we assume Jesus doesn’t care about us when He allows our faith to be tested; we feel it unnecessary for us to face trials and temptations. But such are the ways of Kingdom life and our life in Christ Jesus. Like anything else in life, if faith is to grow and develop, if it is to be and strengthened and enlarged, if it is to become ‘great faith’ it must, and it will be tested.
Over the years I have found that in my own life, and in the lives of others, the greatest test of faith in God is His silence - when we pray, and pray, and pray, but God does not speak; or at least we think He’s not speaking. My mother use to say that God always answers the prayers of His people. He may answer ‘yes’, or ‘no’, or ‘wait’, but He always answers. The faith of this woman, however, would not be silenced. Like The Parable of the Persistent Widow (Luke 18:2-8), the Syro-Phoenician woman persisted in her request for Jesus to heal her daughter.
Does this mean that if we pray for the Lord to fulfill a request and He answers ‘no’, then we should continue to make the request until He answers ‘yes’? That is not the purpose of prayer. Prayer is not a tool to ‘strong arm’ God into doing what we want. It is another means whereby we enjoy fellowship with God - it is conversation with God. In prayer we come to understand God’s will in our life and our many situations. Prayer aligns us with God’s will, not vice versa. So, are we to persist in prayer until we have an answer from God? Yes. But when the answer comes, we must, in faith accept His answer and obey His will.
“Thank You, Lord for the provision of prayer. I thank You that You hear us when we pray and that Your respond to our prayer according to Your will for us and for those we pray. May we never use this privilege as a means to manipulate You. Rather, let us pray in faith, believing that Your will is what is best in each life and situation. To Your glory and honor I ask, Amen.”