Preface: “You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand” (James 5:8, NKJV).
Matthew 15:22–26 is the story of a woman whose daughter was possessed by demons. When she pleaded, ‘ “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession’ ” (verse 22, NIV), Christ kept quiet. The woman persisted. She knelt down and said again, ‘ “Lord, help me!’ ” (verse 25, NIV). This time Christ demanded to know whether the food for children would be given to dogs. (Gentiles were so called by Jews). The woman replied, ‘ “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table’ ” (verse 27, NIV).
Even when Jesus doesn’t seem to answer our prayers, He is not unmindful of our needs. Sometimes when we pray and Christ has kept silent, we become discouraged. We don’t believe He will have compassion upon us. It must have seemed to the woman that Jesus was refusing her request when He referred to dogs. This would have sent many away.
In spite of all that discourages us, however, we should continue to accept what the Lord says, as did the woman, as a reason to persist. Like Job we should accept God’s will and recognize that when Jesus seems not to answer our prayers, it doesn’t mean that He is not ignoring our needs. Answers are sure to come when it is for our best if we continue to have faith in Him.
Here are a few points that will help us as we pray:
1. Faith: Jesus told His disciples that they should believe that they will receive what they ask for in prayer (Mark 11:24). They should believe that God hears their prayers and will answer.
2. Patience: Unless we exercise self-control under greatest provocation, our prayers cannot be answered. This is a great condition for receiving that for which we ask (Rom.12:12). Peter says to be “clear minded” and “self-controlled” in prayer (1 Pet. 4:7, NIV). Paul says, “In everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Phil 4:6, NIV).
3. Forgiveness: When we go to God for mercy and blessings, we should be sure that we have the spirit of forgiveness in our hearts. To refuse to forgive others only shows how ungrateful we are for what God did for us.
4. Thanksgiving: We need to praise God more. Our prayers are not to be solely asking and receiving. We must remember to say thanks to God for what He has done for us (Ps. 107:8).