The Bible is full of interesting incidents from which we can learn the ways of the Lord. Nothing in the Bible was recorded by coincidence; everything in God’s word is intentional and by design. We face the exact same challenges the people of those days had to deal with. Some things never change! Thank God, He doesn’t change either, and neither does His word.
One such incident took place when Jesus was confronted by a Canaanite woman who sought His help with her daughter:
Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 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.” Matthew 15:21,22
This woman had a pressing need, and she cried out to the Lord. She found herself in the presence on the only One who could help her, but what seemed like an unexpected blessing, quickly turned into a major disappointment:
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 15:23
Jesus ignored her! Then His disciples asked Him to send her away because she was annoying—a double slap in the face of this helpless woman, and enough reason to turn around and leave in despair. Jesus’ attitude and the hostility of the disciples spoiled the atmosphere for the miracle she was looking for, to happen. Then came the final answer:
But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Matthew 15:24
She was not a Jew, and that disqualified her to receive help from Jesus. She now had more reason to understand that Jesus was not there to help her. The door was slammed shut in her face, but she was not willing to let Him go without helping her:
Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” Matthew 15:25
This is the step so many of us often miss. She was firmly rejected, but worshiped Him instead, repeating her plea for help. This mother was not going to give up—but neither was Jesus:
But He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.” Matthew 15:26
Talk about adding insult to injury! What He had to give could not be wasted on her, a Gentile, and someone the Jews looked down upon. By this time it was clear that Jesus was not willing to help her, and that His answer was a definite NO. Not willing to let Him go, she pressed on:
And she said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” Matthew 15:27
This is where things changed for her; what you see is not always what you get! Her attitude, her faith, and her persistence touched His heart. His demeanor toward her changed from apparent contempt to glowing praise:
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. Matthew 15:28
This Canaanite woman fought through rejection, hostility, and insults to receive the answer to her prayer. Jesus called her persistence faith, and that is what moved His heart. Faith presses on until the need is met. Imagine how sad it would have been if she walked away at any stage of this encounter! How often do we walk away just before the breakthrough comes!
Knowing the character of the Lord, we understand that Jesus put this woman through these steps to make a point from which we all can learn. He never turned anybody who came to Him for help, away empty handed. He told a parable to emphasize the power of faith that is expressed in persistence:
Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, saying: “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’ ” Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said. Luke 18:1-6
“…that men always ought to pray and not lose heart…” Prayer is often a battle in which the answer we are looking for, must be pried from the enemy’s hands. Don’t forget, the devil came to steal, kill and destroy, (John 10:10) so we cannot afford to give up our work in prayer before the answer manifested. Daniel’s answer to prayer was delayed because there was war in the heavenlies that he didn’t know about:
Then he said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia. Daniel 10:12,13
Look how Jesus ended this parable:
And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:7,8
Once again, Jesus called persistent prayer, faith. He then asked a very important question: when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth? He is looking for that persistent, unwavering, never-giving-up, longsuffering faith that will accomplish God’s will in lives and situations.
Our prayers are capable to wrestle lost souls from the power of the devil who holds them captive. Your prayer can break down the walls around those hardened hearts, brick by brick. Bold prayers weaken the enemy because relentless faith adds power to them.
We have entered the last lap of this race, and the finish line is already in sight. Jesus will not say no to your prayer; He wants you to finish strong!