When Jesus is Silent

Matthew 15:21-28 tells the story of a Syrophoenician woman who asked Jesus to heal her daughter from demon possession.  Jesus was silent (Matthew 15:23).  Do you ever feel that Jesus ignores your prayers?  We know He doesn’t always answer “yes,” but a “no” or “later” would be nice to hear instead of just silence.  The text doesn’t tell us why He didn’t respond.  It does tell us she persevered, though. 

Finally Jesus told her He came to minister to Jews, not Gentiles (Matthew 15:24).  She humbled herself, , knelt and pleaded for her daughter.  Jesus said He shouldn’t take the Jew’s bread and give it to “dogs” (Matthew 15:26).  She wasn’t to be denied.  She didn’t complain or try to force Him, she just appealed to His mercy.  She agreed but added even the dogs get to eat crumbs that fall from the table (Matthew 15:27).  She knew even crumbs from Jesus could deliver her daughter from the powers tormenting her.  Jesus was so impressed by her faith that He answered her prayer and healed her daughter (Matthew 15:28). 

We will never know why He was silent, at least not this side of heaven.  But we do know the woman persevered in her prayer even when she felt Jesus ignored her.  It seems clear that’s why this event is recorded in the Bible.  The focus is on her persistence and determination.  Perhaps that’s why Jesus ignored her at first.  Could it be He sometimes ignores us to test us?  Maybe He wants us to continue to pray as an example to others.  I’m sure we appreciate the answer better when we have more ‘skin’ involved in the answer!

She persevered but didn’t push.  She was polite, not demanding.  She didn’t criticize Jesus or insist He do what she wanted.  She humbly kept asking for mercy.  Persevere but don’t push.  I think that’s a good lesson for me to learn.  What about you? (March 18, 2019  Doylestown, PA)

Luke 18:1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.

1 Kings 18:42-44  But Elijah climbed to the top of Mount Carmel and bowed low to the ground and prayed with his face between his knees.  Then he said to his servant, “Go and look out toward the sea.”  The servant went and looked, then returned to Elijah and said, “I didn’t see anything.”  Seven times Elijah told him to go and look. 44 Finally the seventh time, his servant told him, “I saw a little cloud about the size of a man’s hand rising from the sea.”

How do you respond when it seems Jesus ignores your prayers?  Do you persevere, or do you push?

Are there prayers you should keep praying, ones you have given up on when God wants you to keep praying?

Jerry Schmoyer

Christian Training Organization ©2019



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