When it Feels Like God Isn’t Listening to Our Prayers
By: April Motl
“And Jesus went away from there, and withdrew into the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman came out from that region, and began to cry out, saying, ‘Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed.’ But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples came to Him and kept asking Him, saying, ‘Send her away, for she is shouting out after us.’ But He answered and said, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’ But she came and began to bow down before Him, saying, ‘Lord, help me!’ And He answered and said, ‘It is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.’ But she said, ‘Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters' table.’ Then Jesus answered and said to her, ‘O woman, your faith is great; be it done for you as you wish.’ And her daughter was healed at once.” (Matthew 15:21-28 NASB)
This story is for those of us who have gone through seasons where we felt like God’s work went “quiet.”
Notice in verse 23 that Jesus “did not answer her a word.” And the disciples were even sick of hearing this woman crying out for help. It seemed like Jesus was ignoring her! Then when He finally did give her attention, He appeared to be less than immediately sympathetic.
Jesus wasn’t ignoring the Canaanite woman or lacking compassion toward her need. He was “setting the stage.” This woman who was an “outsider” to the Jewish faith displayed more belief than the very people who were supposed to have been ready and waiting for Jesus’ coming. In addition, her story prepared the way for the Gospel being preached to those outside the Jewish faith. She was a foreshadowing of the work God was planning to accomplish among the gentiles. And she was a great example of faith!
When you feel like the Lord isn’t hearing your prayers, take heart and emulate this woman’s example by doing the following:
1. Continue to pray.
Like the Canaanite woman who kept lifting her request, we also need to keep praying!
Read the parable of the persistent widow in Luke 18:1-8 for another example Jesus highlighted pertaining to a steadfastness in our prayer life. The Lord cherishes a person whose faith keeps compelling them to come to Him.
2. Be completely humble.
The Canaanite woman engaged Jesus with total humility. She was on her face before Him.
Sometimes we are tempted to get frustrated in the Lord’s timing and spiritually shake our fists at Him, demanding an answer. That is simply not our place. A crucial piece of this woman’s availability to be a good witness was tied to her humility. We, too, need humble ourselves before the Lord.
3. Expect your Lord to meet you.
The Canaanite woman knew who she was talking to: the One who gives generously even to the littlest and weakest among us. She was there to receive from His hand whatever He saw fit to give her.
Regardless of your situation, remember who you are talking to: the One who has gone to the ends of Creation to meet you. The One who did not even withhold His very own Son in pursuit of you. Hang on to the truth that He will meet you.
4. Be thankful for whatever the Lord sees fit to give you.
The Canaanite woman declared that she would be content with crumbs, because even God’s crumbs were more than enough.
Sometimes crumbs are the very best because it leaves room for an appetite for the True Bread of Life. Sometimes, God opens the floodgates and we are shocked at His overflow of blessing. Whatever He chooses to give us, the right stance of our heart is gratitude.
Editor’s Note: Part of this devotional was taken from How to Pray When it Feels Like God Isn’t Listeningby April Motl. You can read the full blog post here.
Listen to our FREE Christmas Podcast: The Characters of Christmas - The Surprising People in Jesus' Family: