Perseverance in Prayer

Mark 7: 24-30
1Kgs 11:4-13 / Psa 106

“Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”
(Mark 7:28)

Three things we must always remember
When we seek God’s help in prayer:
Perseverance, humble surrender,
And faith in His love and power.

Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet He could not keep His presence secret. In fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an impure spirit came and fell at His feet. The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter. “First let the children eat all they want,” He told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” But she replied, “Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” Then He told her, “For saying this, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.” She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone. (Mark 7:24-30)

Reflection

Mark’s Gospel does not mention why our Lord Jesus and His companions travelled to this region of Tyre. Probably they went to this pagan territory where they hoped nobody knew them so that they could find rest from the maddening crowd.

The Syrophoenician woman was a pagan Greek whose daughter was possessed by an evil spirit. She believed Jesus was the only one who could cure her daughter, and somehow she had managed to force her way into the house where our Lord was seeking some privacy. Jesus, after all, was also human, and needed some time to rest. It was not customary for a woman to approach a spiritual leader like Jesus – much less a pagan (whom the Jews considered unclean), or be regarded as a prostitute. It is not surprising therefore that Jesus regarded her visit as obtrusive, and so initially treated her in a derogatory way. “Let the children be fed first. For it is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs” (Mk.7:27). Our Lord must have really been offended by her impropriety to have used the word “dog” to refer to the Greek woman’s tribe. But the Syrophoenician woman’s reply was so self-demeaning that she wisely captured Jesus’ heart: “Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs” (7:28). Touched by her humility, Jesus gave in to her request, “For saying this, you may go. The demon has left your daughter” (7:29).

This is the second time that we read about a woman prevailing upon our Lord with her appeal when it was “not yet His time.” In the wedding at Cana, when His mother Mary told Jesus that they had run out of wine, He said, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come” (John 2:4). And yet He acceded and turned the water into wine. In His encounter with the Syrophoenician woman, we again see the compassionate nature of Jesus. This Gospel passage has taught us that there is nothing more vital than prayers. God answers our prayers when we do not hesitate or doubt, but put full confidence and perseverance in seeking His mercy. Like that pagan woman however, we must bring our petition to Him in humility, as we acknowledge our weakness and total dependence on Him. And most important of all, we must have complete faith that in His great love and compassion, God will grant our prayer.

Dear Jesus, keep us strong in our faith, and help us share it with all people we come in contact with in our life, whether they are Christian, Muslim, Hindu or pagan; for you have shown us in today’s Word, that all people have the opportunity to inherit Your kingdom. Amen.

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