Pressing In To God With Prayer.

I find it interesting to compare our learned concepts of God and how we react towards events, with what the bible actually says about His character and how bible people of faith reacted to Jesus.

How do we react to our perception of whether God is hearing our prayers? Does He seem to have favourites, and how do we react to what we perceive? How do we react if we're told God may not grant 'our' request as against someone else's, because of His sovereign will?

Perhaps we could consider what James has to say about fervent prayer in Chapter 5 of his letter. These questions came to mind as I was meditating recently on the passage in Matthew, Chapter 15, where a Canaanite woman came asking Jesus to heal her daughter. It was an eye-opener for me, to see what it said about faith towards God and prayer.

Let's first of all read Matthew 15, verses 22 - 28...

Mat 15:22-28 And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon." But he did not answer her a word.

And his disciples came and begged him, saying, "Send her away, for she is crying out after us." He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." But she came and knelt before him, saying, "Lord, help me."

And he answered, "It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs." She said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table."

Then Jesus answered her, "O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire." And her daughter was healed instantly.

That's the section of scripture. Now let's see what we can learn from it.

Perception No. 1. - God is not hearing our prayers.

When the story opens the woman is crying out to Jesus for her daughter to be healed and Jesus ignores her and carries on walking!

How do we react today if we pray and we feel that our prayers are not being heard; that they are not getting above the ceiling; or that we don't know how we ought to pray?

Often we let doubt and unbelief enter our minds and heart because 'the heavens are like brass', and so we don't press in tennaciously, and we may even stop praying.

But what did this woman do?

She kept pressing in to Jesus and she kept on asking, - "Help me"!

Perception No. 2. - It's not God's will to help.

Next the disciples come to Jesus and tell Him to send her away. This protracted hue and cry isn't good for the image. We've got a reputation for compassion and for healing and this doesn't look good!

But Jesus effectively tells her - 'I haven't been sent to you. It's not the Father's will for me to help you. I was only sent to help Israelites'.

What would we do if were told that, 'God may not want to heal us; it may not be according to His will'? Or, 'God isn't healing in this age'? Some might let doubt and unbelief pervade their thinking and affect their faith so that they may not be fervent in prayer and press in and they may even stop praying about the problem entirely.

But what did this woman do? And remember she wasn't told that it 'might' not be God's will - she was told it definitely wasn't God's will to heal her daughter at that time! Well, effectively she said to Jesus, "I've got a real problem here - Help me"!

Then came the third kind of obstacle that one might perceive...

Perception No. 3. - You are not worthy to be helped.

The next comment from Jesus tells her that one should not take something that's meant for one person and give it to another, especially when they don't qualify!

How would we react to this? What do we do if it's suggested, for instance, that our sins separate us from God so we cannot expect Him to help us every time?

We might well let doubt take over and give up fighting for our blessing to be manifested; and we may even stop praying.

But this woman kept on pressing in to Jesus. She in effect said, "You're the Messiah. You're the Saviour of Israel, the chosen people, and I'm not trying to take anything from them. But, you're also the Saviour of the world; and in there I qualify"! Or she may have thought about one of Jesus' physical miracles and said to herself, "When you fed the five thousand, all those of Israel were fed, but there were twelve baskets left over"! And she kept pressing forward for a blessing.

And Jesus said...

Mat 15:28 "O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire."

And her daughter was healed instantly.

This true story was put in the bible to show us how we should react when Satan or anyone else tries to take away our blessings. We should resist and fight to press in to Jesus for whatever we are asking of Him.

Perhaps a good definition of this kind of faith, which Jesus commended in this woman, might be....

Faith - a tennacious, fighting belief that Jesus will do every good thing that we ask of Him.

And 'effectual fervent prayer' could maybe be defined this way....

Effectual Fervent Prayer - Prayer built on the foundation of a tennacious, fighting belief that Jesus will do every good thing that we ask of Him.

So let's all exhibit that kind of faith; The faith this woman had and which Jesus has placed within us, since we all have the same faith of Jesus that the Apostles were given!

2 Pet 1:1 Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:

And let's "press in" to receive God's promises; for a promise is a debt to be paid.

2 Cor 1:19-20 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us; by me and Silas and Timothy; was not yes and no, but in Him was, yes! For all the promises of God in Him are yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God by us.

We know God always has our best interests at heart, and always does His part, in fact has already done it; but we can either -
a) Limit what He can do in the situation, because of our doubt and unbelief
b) Remove unbelief and "heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, and cast out demons, as we "press in" to Jesus to get the answers for all the good things that we ask for, as we do the work of advancing the kingdom."!

Let's take the limits off!

Now moving on to other scriptures we note that James had a lot to say about effective prayer. We can camp on James, Chapter 5, verses 13-16 for a while, for instance, and check out what he had to say there!

Jam 5:13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

First we see that James tells us we should always have an attitude of 'prayer and thanksgiving' towards God. This is only right knowing how much God loves us and has done for bus and knowing that He lives in us and will never leave us. But in terms of prayer James tells us that if anyone is sick they should call on the elders in the Church to pray for them.

Now you will know that God has given ALL believers the authority to heal the sick. This is shown in Matthew, Chapter 10, verse 8 as an example.

Mat 10:8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay.

Obviously then James is referring to believers/Christians who are not walking in this gift that Jesus has given them. So, since they are not able to exhibit this gift Jesus tells them to call on the elders who should be walking in the Spirit and who can show them the way!

And what does James say the elders will do?

James says that they will pray for them (In the name of the Lord) and anoint them with oil (In the name of the Lord) and this prayer offered in faith WILL make the sick person well!

Jesus expects the elders in the Church to be men and women of faith who walk in the Spirit and exhibit the gifts that He has given to the believers, including healing!

You will notice that James also says that 'The Lord will raise him up'. This illustrates the point that the power is the Lord's but the authority is ours. We have to command it to happen. Peter in giving healing to the crippled begger at the gate commanded - "In the name of Jesus, stand up and walk".

Peter did not beg and plead and ask God if it was according to His will and He was in a good mood and there was an 'R' in the month, could He look down on His poor pitiful servants and in His mercy and sovereignty deign to bring a healing touch to this poor crippled man! - That is NOT what Jesus told us to do!! He said that we were sent in the same manner that He was sent, and He commanded diseases to go and demons to come out of people.

The other thing that WILL happen is that "If they have sinned, they will be forgiven". This is the only conditional statement in the passage and yet it's an absolute conditional! If you've sinned you WILL be forgiven. If you haven't sinned presumably you don't need to be forgiven! But if you have sinned just tell of this and God will forgive you and you will be healed. The prayer of the righteous man/woman will avail much. Of course you know that as a Christian you are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus? !

God has promised us a lot in His word. We have to believe Him and follow the promptings of Holy Spirit as He leads us to acheive them! We are unlikely to achieve 100%, at first, but we should just realize that Jesus showed what a human being perfectly surrendered to following Holy Spirit could do - we typically have some growing to do to reach His maturity!

So let's be believers who actually believe, and "press in" to grow in faith and receive God's promises.

Best wishes for grace and the peace of Jesus.


Paul's Thorn In The Flesh. Click Here.
Grace and Law in Ancient Israel. Click Here.
What do you mean - Grace? Click Here.
The Heart Of God Click Here.

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