Do your prayers seem to bounce off the ceiling? Is God ignoring you? If that’s the case, we can learn something from the Syrophoenician woman.
Here’s her story in a nutshell (Matthew 15:21-29; Mark 7:24-29). Jesus and His followers took a foreign mission trip to the northern Mediterranean coast and the Gentile cities of Tyre and Sidon. There, He was approached by a woman whose daughter was demon-possessed. After their interesting interaction, Jesus healed the woman’s daughter. End of story. It’s the interaction between Jesus and the woman that we need to consider.
Remember. Jesus isn’t in Israel. He had travelled out of the country to a region inhabited by Gentiles. Although Jesus’ ministry was devoted primarily to God’s chosen nation, His message was for all people. He said, “It is necessary that the gospel be preached to all nations” (Mark 13:10) and He commissioned the church to make disciples in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and beyond, even to the ends of the earth (Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 1:8).
While in that foreign region, a “Canaanite woman” (Matthew 15:22), “a Gentile, a Syrophoenician by birth” (Mark 7:26), came to Jesus. The heart-sick momma “fell at His feet” (Mark 7:25). Jairus, the religious leader, had fallen at the feet of Jesus (Mark 5:23). The demoniac who had lived in the tombs fell at the feet of the Master (Mark 5:6) and Mary, the sister of the dearly departed Lazarus, fell at the feet of Jesus (John 11:32). Might we need to consider our approach to the throne of God? Are we humbly falling at the feet of Jesus?
The heart-sick momma, bowed before Jesus, “kept crying out, ‘Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David!’ ” (Matthew 15:22). Her prayer was bold, passion-filled, urgent, crucial, and critical! She’s not the only New Testament character to “cry out” to God. A weary father “cried out” (Mark 9:24) on behalf of his son. The blind beggar, Bartimaeus, “cried out, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ ” (Mark 10:47). The crowds on Palm Sunday “cried out, saying: ‘Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ” (Mark 11:9, NKJV). And the fishermen-turned-apostles “cried out in fear” (Matthew 14:26) during a fierce squall on the Sea of Galilee. Can you remember the last time you fell at the feet of Jesus and wept? I suspect that Jesus might answer today just as He did on the stormy sea; “Have courage! … Don’t be afraid.” (Matthew 14:27).
The Syrophoenician fell before Jesus and cried out… and she “kept crying out!” (Matthew 15:22). When Jesus reminded her that she was an unclean Gentile, a “dog,” she wasn’t discouraged or dissuaded. “Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs”
(Mark 7:28). Her prayers were persistent! She was tenacious. She accepted the priority of Jesus’ mission to the Jews but pointed out that Israel’s privileges did not exclude Gentiles from enjoying the overflow. She “kept crying out” for a crumb of the Master’s overflow!
Are your prayers bouncing off the ceiling? God doesn’t just hear the prayers of a chosen few or of the worthy ones. He is gracious to hear my prayers too… and yours. Let’s learn from the Syrophoenician. Pray humbly. Pray boldly and urgently. And keep on praying persistently.