Persistent Prayers

by David & Stephen Olford

Text: "Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt" (Matt. 15:28).

Thought: When we speak of persistency in prayer we must never think of hesitancy in God's heart, but of barriers in own lives. Time and time again God tests our prayers that He might purify our motives and crystallize our requests. Here is a story, which illustrates this, very principal. The woman's faith is a challenge even to the casual reader. She would not take "no" for an answer. Her faith ultimately broke through every barrier until Jesus could say, "Be it unto thee even as thou wilt." Her faith was great because:

1. She would not be denied. She cried, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil" (v. 22). Then follow these strange words: "But he answered her not a word" (v. 23). The Lord wanted to test the reality of her faith so He refused to answer her prayer. But she was undaunted and would not be silenced by a denied request.

2. She would not be deflected. Jesus said to her, "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (v. 24). In one sense this put the woman outside the pale of mercy, for she was a Gentile. But in spite of this, she would not be deflected; indeed, she came and worshiped Him, saying, "Lord help me" (v. 25).

3. She would not be discouraged. The Master tested her further by saying; "It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs" (v. 26). These are very hard words, and they might well have been received with resentment, but this dear soul was not discouraged. Humbling herself beneath the "dogs," she replied, "The pups (Greek "little dogs") eat crumbs which fall from their masters' table" (v. 27). It is no wonder that Jesus exclaimed, "O Woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt" (v. 28). The Savior abominates all farcical praying. He must have reality, and here was a woman who meant business with God in spite of denials, deflections, and discouragements, and consequently her request was granted.

Thrust: "Great faith is the faith ‘that laughs at impossibilities and cries,' It shall be done.'"

David Olford teaches expository preaching at Union University's
Stephen Olford Center in Memphis, Tennessee

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