I know a secret. It is one that will interest you.
Would you not like to know how to have a faith that truly pleases the Lord?
Our text tells us of such a faith. See the record in Matthew 15:21-28. Jesus says to this poor woman, “You have great faith!” 28.
Are you surprised that He commends her so openly? Great faith is only born of hard testing. It is not easily overcome by pride. Two-bit, pea-sized faith can never stand the sunlight of much attention. The spiritual weakling can’t take the heights. The sight of God at work for him would make him so giddy that faith would be ruined.
Not so with this woman, for years she had walked through the dark valley of affliction. Her young daughter was a victim of demons.
The study of this Canaanite woman’s manner of praying should lead us to greater confidence in prayer to our God. See how she persisted against all obstacles. Every time they turned around there she was before them crying for Jesus to help.
You see, strong faith keeps praying through all tests. Study carefully her responses to Christ’s dealing and you will see what a faith is like that can overcome all tests. I will list four tests.
I. THE NATURAL TENDENCY TO NEGLECT PRAYER
I suppose this should be mentioned first, though it is not pointed out specifically in our text. “Business as usual” is a universal feeling. We do not naturally tend to go definitely to God with our burdens.
Many mutely carry their own problems. Some cry and mutter but do not pointedly pray. Still others grow bitter and very demanding toward God.
But when Jesus makes his unusual trip up into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, this Gentile woman “came to Him, crying out.” Even her difference in national and religious background did not stop her.
Again, the years of numbing hurt and heart stress over the dear, plagued daughter did not drive her from God. Hear her cry: “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon possession,” 22.
II. THE SILENCE OVERHEAD
“But he answered her not a word,” 23. Have you had the sad experience of praying and praying and nothing happens? Just that silence overhead.
Picture her pleading look unto Jesus, and now see Him. He simply turns away – without a word!
But does He not care? Read Isaiah 63:9 where Almighty God rehearses His struggles with the wayward suffering children of Israel. “In all their affliction he was afflicted.” Imagine God enduring suffering with His people!
Then, why does Jesus remain silent? Because he wants to exercise and strengthen her faith. Furthermore, He wishes to show this faith to us. We need to learn persistence in real prayer.
What is her response? We learn from the aggravated disciples of Christ that she kept right on crying to Jesus, 23. Follow this example.
III. DOUBT REGARDING THE REQUEST
Many by and by give up their requests in prayer with a shrug and say, “God is not answering because it is not His will.” Time and again it will seem so. But is it?
Jesus puts this very test to the valiant spiritual warrior here and she passes it! Hear Him speak, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” True words, actually, but it does not mean that He is not standing right there in Gentile territory and about to grant one great exception.
What ought we to do when faith wavers and we reason, “This request of mine must not be on God’s great plan sheet”? (Of course, that often is true in the case of self-centered folks, but not so here!) We should do just what this woman did: “The woman came and knelt before him. ‘Lord, help me!’ she said.”
Does she turn away sad, broken, bitter? No, falling before Him, she holds on in earnest petition. Do exactly that. Worship Him. Look up yet again. The Lord God is a helper of those who are brought low, Psalm 116:6.
IV. FEELING OF UNWORTHINESS
She is to undergo yet another test. Perhaps you are shocked to hear Jesus next say, “It is not right to take the children’s bread, and toss it to their dogs.”
No doubt, a feeling of awful unworthiness now sweeps over her very heart. And, it is so very true that the unsettled sin can hide God’s face from us when we pray. See Isaiah 59:1-2. However, not even sin need block us from prayer. Simply settle accounts with God. Do this by claiming the blood offering of Jesus Christ on the cross to pay for those very sins.
Now, we are again amazed by this woman’s instant response to Jesus, “Yes, Lord.” Amen. You are right. No resentment. No rebellion.
How is it with you? Really, now, how have you felt toward God?
She says, “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”
Look closely at those words. Mighty steel of pure faith is there. “I am yours. Though lowly, I choose your table. Even if under it, I shall claim the crumbs. Whether or not, I am honored before men or not, I want something from your table. Even the crumbs of your mighty power can utterly change my child!”
Oh, what power in God’s crumbs! Even the edges of His merciful might are enough to perform all!
By now, we sense this woman is closing in on the very heart of Jesus and is in spirit saying: “And, you will grant it, too, Lord. I know you won’t turn me away empty!”
No longer able to restrain the deep swelling tide of divine mercy, lips of grace cry out, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” From that moment her daughter was entirely healed.
Oh, friends, get your burdens and needs out in the light of definite prayer. That is first.
Secondly, spend time in the Scripture. Search right through a book at a time. Begin with the New Testament.
Thirdly, follow this example of great faith and through every test, keep at prayer!