Reading Scripture: Matthew 15:21-28
Verse to Memorize: 1 John 3:21-22
Reference: Mark 11:24
Goal: To help believers determine the reasons why they are not able to receive answers to their prayer and let them receive them through deeds of faith and confession
No matter how evil a person might be, he would not give his children a stone when they ask for bread, nor would he give them a snake when they ask for fish. Parents want to feed their children with good food and clothe them well. Then, how much more will the God of love want to give what is good to those children who ask Him! From a Canaanite woman who appears in the 15th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, let’s learn the key to receiving answers.
1. A Canaanite Woman and Bringing Down an Answer
Following passages from Matthew 15:21 tell us what kind of deeds of faith a Canaanite woman, whose daughter was suffering from demon-possession, showed to receive answer. When she saw her loving daughter, who was the apple of her eye, suffering from a cruel demon, her heart ached severely.
She had always been in pain due to her daughter. Meantime, she heard good news. It was that there was Jesus who had driven out demons and healed every kind of diseases and infirmities and He had come to her town. She, with joy, went to Him and called out to Him with a loud voice. She begged Him to drive away the demon from her daughter, saying, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed.”
Oddly, however, Jesus did not say a word. She kept shouting so His disciples came and implored Him to respond to her and send her away. But Jesus simply said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” It meant that He would be concerned about only the sons of Israel.
If she were just an ordinary woman, her feelings might have been hurt, but she did not feel such hurt at all. She came again and began to bow down before Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” It seemed like she was being treated like a dog. Of course, Jesus spoke to her in this way to test her faith. If others had heard such words they would have bitterly resented it and their pride would have been severely wounded. They probably would even have left the place.
Yet, it didn’t hurt the woman’s pride and she didn’t feel bad about it, either. She became humbled enough to accept any word뾢ven harsh words if it meant her daughter’s healing. So, she lowered herself completely and said, “Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”
Finally, Jesus said to her who had importuned Him continually with confessions of faith and a humble heart, “O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.” Right then, her daughter was set free from the demon and made whole. In the same manner, to receive answers, we should ask in accord with God’s will, humble ourselves, and show faith till the end.
2. The Reasons People Fail to Receive God’s Answers to their Prayer
In the Bible, there are several passages where God promises to answer our prayer. It is just as said in John 14:13, “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” Yet, why do many people fail to receive God’s answers to their prayer though they say they are leading a diligent Christian life and praying unceasingly?
1) Because they pray with wickedness in their hearts
Psalm 66:18 reads, “If I regard wickedness in my heart, the LORD will not hear.” Isaiah 59:1-2 also says, “Behold, the LORD’s hand is not so short that it cannot save; nor is His ear so dull that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.” If we have wickedness in our hearts, the enemy devil and Satan bother our prayer and we can’t receive answer. Only when we repent thoroughly of our sins and pray can we receive answers.
2) Because they pray while in discord with their brothers
Matthew 18:35 states, “My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.” Here, to ‘do the same’ means that there will be punishment with no forgiveness. Unless we forgive brothers from the bottom of our hearts we cannot be forgiven by God. It causes our prayer to be unable to reach God, and finally we can’t receive answers. So, if you are in discord with your spouse, parents, brothers, or neighbors, you must be reconciled with them first before prayer.
3) Because they pray to satisfy their craving
God says in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” God does not answer prayer that is given to fulfill lust or with wrong motives as written in James 4:2-3. If your child is well-behaved and studies hard you would joyfully respond to his request if he asks for something. However, if your child does not usually behave well and cannot be trusted, you will not give him extra allowance because you are afraid that he may use the money improperly.
4) They pray with doubt and lack of trust
God says in James 1:6-7 that we must ask in faith without any doubt to receive answers from the Lord. God is pleased with prayer offered up in faith as recorded in Hebrews 11:6. Mark 11:24 also reads, “All things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.” So, we must pray and ask in faith without any doubting. Then God will give us answers.
5) Because they pray without keeping God’s commandments
John 14:21 says, “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.” When we keep God’s commandments we can say we love God. Only then can we receive the love of God and the Lord. If we keep His commands and do the things that are pleasing in His sight we can become confident before God and receive whatever we ask from Him (1 John 3:21-22).
On the contrary, if we don’t keep His commandments God does not answer our prayers. If God answered those who do not keep His commands it would go against the justice of God and some people would feel like they do not have to keep the commands. Just as Proverbs 8:17 reads, “I love those who love me; and those who diligently seek me will find me,” those who keep God’s commands with love for God will seek Him diligently and finally meet the living God. By doing so, they will receive answers from God.
6) Because they pray without sowing in faith
Galatians 6:7 says, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” We cannot reap without sowing. If one sows prayer, he receives spiritual blessings; if he sows offerings, God gives material blessings; and if he sows his time volunteering, he receives the blessings of good health. That is, we will reap whatever we sow before God. Thus, we must zealously sow with faith to bring down answer.
Those who love God ardently sow before God even when they do not have any particular problem to be solved or they have nothing in particular for which they give thanks. This is because they are more than thankful just for the grace of salvation. If they need something they will sow before God more heartily. These people always enjoy overflowing blessing. If you have wanted to gain something without sowing I hope you will repent of it and sow with joy and thanks.
What kinds of prayer do you offer up now? I hope you will check if you offer up prayer worthy of answer or not and bring down a lot of answers by giving prayer that is pleasing to God.