I love to pray biblical prayers. I'm grateful that God is willing to listen to my babble and lists, but I feel even more connected to Him in prayer when I pray His own words back to Him. Typically I pray the Lord’s Prayer two times a day. I try not to do it as a ritual, but as an example of how Jesus tells me to pray. I reflect on the meaning of each phrase to me as I say it. I have been drawn to the Prayer of the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15:21-28. It has become a model for me.
Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”
Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”
He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”
The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.
He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
“Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”
Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.
The prayer stands out to me because she is among the people Jesus met who displayed great faith. Most of the time Jesus was stunned by the lack of faith He experienced from others, yet ere was a Gentile woman showing not only faith, but great faith! How did she get there?
Her faith grew from her great need. She had a daughter who was suffering terribly. There is nothing worse for a mother. I'm sure the mother could have handled her own suffering better than watch her daughter suffer in this way.
Her faith grew from her rational mind. In her efforts to seek a cure this mother had accepted the diagnosis. Her daughter was demon-possessed. Where do you go for help with a problem like that? There is only one place religion. Who was the best in the world at that time? Her search had brought her to find out about a man named Jesus. She discovered that He was Lord and Son of David. She had done her homework. Remember, she isn't Jewish so she had to search and learn about Jesus from others. She learned how to ask Jesus for help. She asked in the best way—acknowledging Who He is and asking for mercy, naming the problem. Nevertheless, Jesus was silent.
Her faith grew from her love for her child. Though the disciples were ready to send her away, she would not stop asking for the healing she sought. Her love for her daughter inspired her to keep asking in the midst of the seeming lack of an answer.
Her faith grew from intimacy with Jesus. When Jesus spoke to her she humbly knelt before Him. His words could have been mistaken as a rejection. Rather than feel rejected by what she didn't fully understand, she drew closer to Jesus and got right up close. Her prayer was less wordy, “Lord, help me” she said. Sometimes the best prayers have less words and more confidence in the one to Whom we are praying.
Her faith grew from conversing with Jesus. When Jesus gave the undeniable theological truth—her openness with Jesus helped her know the answer was simple, all she needed was a crumb to be dropped. Jesus was amazed by her faith. I want to follow the example of her faith.