Cornerstone Prayer Time Meditations

Tonight we look to Matthew 15.21-28 (I’ll not take the space on this blog to give the entire text; just go here and you’ll be able to view it if you don’t have a Bible handy). This text is one of the rather “difficult” ones at first glance. If you just read it on the surface, you’d be inclined to think that Jesus had just hardened His heart toward this Canaanite woman. But read it through 2-3 times and you’ll see that Jesus had a very clear intent all along (and it wasn’t just to test the woman’s faith, although He did do that; and it wasn’t to grant her request eventually, although He did do that; this passage comes in the context of Jesus teaching His disciples several lessons in dealing with the scribes & Pharisees, in performing miracles and in direct teaching times, so I believe He’s also trying to get the disciples to learn a very important lesson for the future).

I don’t want to get sidetracked by lot’s good things in this passage. I’d like to simply have us see what this passage teaches us in regards to our prayer life. So pray, let’s see just that.

How often have you found yourself wondering why, it seems, God isn’t answering your prayers. You’ve come to Him time and time again with a serious request. You’ve sought to make certain it is in accordance with His will (1 John 5.14-15). You’ve approached the throne of grace in Christ’s name and even with confidence (John 14.13-14; Hebrews 4.16). Yet there seems to be no answer and the need is still great & pressing.

This is where we find this Canaanite woman: in great need (actually her daughter has the immediate need, but she & her daughter’s need are one in the same, as it were; she readily identifies with this pressing matter – and should it not be so in our prayers for others? When we intercede on behalf of another, what impact does it make at the gates of heaven if we really care not one whit for the person or their need?). She also recognizes who Jesus is: Lord – there is faith already at work in this woman’s heart; Son of David – faith that is saving, for she knows that Jesus is also God’s Messiah, sent to save from sin & wrath.

We’re not told if the woman had tried any other means in order to rid her daughter of this demon. It might seem apparent to us, especially if we are parents, that she would have done so. No matter now; she comes and with great zeal and earnestness pours out her heart to the Lord.

And He seems, at first glance, to be indifferent! There is silence. Have you felt this silence from heaven before? It’s painful to cry out to heaven and then hear nothing in reply. You pray, but see no light. You ask, but hear no answer. You knock and it’s as if the door is bolted and will never open. And the disciples, even while trying to help, really don’t offer much. I think they’re just hoping Jesus would do something so she’ll go away. Oh Lord, forgive for the times we’ve turned a deaf ear and a blind eye to a need, even while praying for it, just so it will go away.

But the woman doesn’t stop. She keeps at it and Jesus answers, but not what she was hoping for. “I’m only here for the house of Israel.” And yet she continues: Lord, help me! There are some, at this point, who claim she is humbling herself, begging, as it were. Others say she’s worshipping the Lord by calling Him by that title. I say: she’s doing both. Does it not mean humbling ourselves when we worship God and not self? And is it not worshipping God when we humbly come with our needs, even if it is through pleading and begging? And so here she is, praying with great urgency to the Lord.

He answers yet again but not quite how we’d expect yet. In essence, Jesus just called this woman a dog! I cannot do it, He says. You’ll have to settle for the crumbs. And this, I believe, is where Jesus meant to go all along: leave the door open for this woman and see where she goes with this answer. Also, let the disciples have a glance at what they will really need to know for the future (the kingdom of heaven is not only for the Jews; Jews first, yes, but not for them alone!).

The woman could have done one of two things here: 1) retorted with pride and anger “How dare you call me a dog!” and that would be the end of the matter; or, 2) respond as she did (which showed her humility – the exact condition needed to get a gracious response; and showed her faith – the complementary condition needed to receive the answer). She took hold of Christ. She saw the door ajar and walked through in faith. She persevered in her request and the Lord overwhelming answered her in grace.

So often we think we can pray for something/someone once, the Lord will hear and answer and that’s that… all because WE prayed. We were the ones praying. We were the ones praying in the right formula: in accordance with God’s will, in Jesus’ name, and so on. How worthy are our prayers. How worthy and deserving are we to be heard. But this woman knew she was nothing and had nothing. She knew where she needed to go; to the One who has everything. We are all unworthy sinners, even the redeemed. We now have access to the Father on the merits of Christ, but that doesn’t make US worthy. It’s Christ who is worthy. And so instead of answering because of our worthiness and our prayers, God answers because of His name’s sake, because of Christ.

Christ knew the silence of heaven. When He hung on that cross, bering the sin and the shame of our sins, being overwhelmed with the fullness of the wrath of His own Heavenly Father, mocked and scorned by the world around Him, He knew the silence of heaven. Yet, He also knew His Father well and He persevered and obeyed and died and lived again! And now, for you and for me, it is this drawing love of Christ for His Father and for you and me that we come to His throne in prayer.

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One Response

  1. Great Post! Thanks for sharing this.

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