Incessant Prayer

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Matthew 15:21-28
21 Jesus went away from there, and withdrew into the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And a Canaanite woman from that region came out and began to cry out, saying, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed.” 23 But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples came and implored Him, saying, “Send her away, because she keeps shouting at us.” 24 But He answered and said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and began to bow down before Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” 26 And He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 27 But she said, “Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus said to her, “O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed at once.

We encounter a peculiar situation in this passage. We have already seen the disciples ask Jesus to send someone away or have even tried to detain some folks attempting to receive healing from Him. This time, however, Jesus is actively sending someone away…or so it seems. With the disciples asking Jesus to send away this annoying woman, we can easily read it to say that Jesus was telling her to go away, when in actuality, He was testing her faith. While the disciples were asking Him to tell her to go away (and they very well might have meant to just heal her daughter so she would leave) He was making a point for her to show her faith to Him. If we recall the previous passages where people have been healed or set free from demonic influence, it has been all about the level of faith involved and it is granted to them. Jesus was making a point to draw out evidence of this woman’s faith, for it is her faith that healed the woman, not Jesus. Her faith is what released His power to cast out the demon. He commitment to receiving from God what she knew He could and would do was an exercise of faith. Jesus relates this to us in Luke 5 where, just after teaching His disciples The Lord’s Prayer, He uses a parable to explain how the Father wants us to pray and trust Him:

5 Then He said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and goes to him at midnight and says to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; 6 for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 7 and from inside he answers and says, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ 8 “I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs. 9 “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 “For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened. 11 “Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? 12 “Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? 13 “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”

Jesus explains that the Father wants us to ask in faith until we receive. He also mentions what we will receive: the Holy Spirit. This isn’t just what we have come to learn as the indwelling of the Spirit as a result of salvation, but the very power of God with us. The woman above received a gift from the Holy Spirit’s power because of her incessant begging for healing for her daughter. We too will receive the same gifts if we continually ask for it. Do you really want what you are asking for or are you just asking because you are “supposed to ask”? Sometimes we pray and ask for things totally not expecting God to grant them to us. Consider what we read in James 1:

5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, 8 being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

When we ask without believing, we might as well not ask at all! This seems like a simple concept but we do it all the time. Just think back to the last time you asked God for something and He surprised you by granting your prayer. Why were you surprised? It wouldn’t be a surprise if you expected it. Just as Jesus explains in Luke 5 above, the more we get to know God by reading through His Word (the bible) the more we learn His character and we will know what He will give us. Therefore, we will be able to know what to ask Him for because we know what He will grant us. Ultimately, He wants us to have His Spirit because this is His presence in our lives, naturally and supernaturally.

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