Fired by love's urgent longings, I am his rocketman.
Who Let The Dogs Out

Who Let The Dogs Out

What does it mean to have faith?  When we ask God to answer our prayers, do we really expect him to do it?  When we ask and don’t immediately receive an answer,  do we usually just give up and assume that for some reason, unknown to us, he doesn’t want to do what we are asking him to do?  What does it mean to believe, to trust, to have confidence, to be faithful?  What do we have to do to see more of our prayers answered?  Maybe we can learn something from the Canaanite woman?

And behold a Canaanite woman from that region came out and cried, ‘Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely possessed by a demon.’  But he did not answer her a word.  And his disciples came and begged him saying, ‘Send her away, for she is crying after us.’  He answered, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’  But she came and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, help me.’  And he answered, ‘It is not fair t take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.’  She said, ‘Yes Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.’  Then Jesus answered her, ‘O woman, great is your faith!   Let it be done for you as you desire.’  And her daughter was healed instantly.”  (Matthew 15:22-28)

The Canaanite woman shows up and cries out.  She’s not just asking, she is begging and in a very loud voice.  In fact, she was so noisy and continued for so long that she was irritating  the disciples.  She annoyed them so much they begged Jesus to send her away.  I wonder how often we cry out to the Lord in this way?  I wonder how many of us think its okay to cry out to the Lord like this?  We may not know that Jesus prayed this way too.  “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard for his godly fear.”  (Hebrews 5:7)  Perhaps we need to follow his example.

Another thing we notice from the story is that, initially, Jesus ignored her; he didn’t even respond to her at all, not a word.  Likewise we frequently encounter silence when we bring our needs to the Lord?  We get nothing in response — not a word, just empty quiet.  What happens then?  Do we continue to ask or do we give up?  Do we persist in prayer or give in to unbelief?  Do we press forward or do we lose confidence, not only for our current need but for future needs as well?  But  the Canaanite woman kept crying out; she would not quit and she wouldn’t take no for an answer.

At last Jesus spoke to her, but not in a way that she could have expected.  He told her that it isn’t fair to take food that belongs to the children (Jews) and give it to the dogs (gentiles).  He essentially tells her that she has not part in what he has to offer and neither does her daughter.  You don’t have to be a Canaanite woman to be offended by this rebuff; nevertheless she presses in even harder, saying “yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the master’s table”.  First, Jesus ignores her; then he offends her, but she refuses to budge.  Jesus, clearly impressed, exclaims, “O woman great is your faith!  Let it be done for you as you desire.”  (Matthew 15:28)

What kind of faith is this?  Undoubtedly,  she believes Jesus can do it; she trusts that he is able to do exactly what she is asking him to do.  Yet the faith she demonstrates  seems to be more than simple belief or trust.  It is more like she is fully persuaded, maybe even “divinely persuaded” that he is able to help her daughter.

No doubt this woman had  great faith just as Jesus said, but I wonder if that’s why Jesus answered her prayer.  After praising her faith, he says, “Let it be done for you as you desire.” In other words, he gives her what she wills/wants.  Compared to this woman, I cannot help but wonder if I “want/will/desire” enough?  Perhaps that explains why my prayers sometimes go unanswered?

Likely the Canaanite woman’s passion is driven by desperation.  Maybe she knows that Jesus is the only hope for her daughter whom she obviously loves very deeply.  Maybe we need to be more convinced that Jesus is the only hope we have for the answers we seek?  What do you think?

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  1. Prayer is such a powerful tool when we use it so that God may be glorified in what we asked for. I believe we all struggle with this. Great post Mark, keep up the good work.

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