When I was a child, my mother bought a book called “The Prayers God Will Always Answer.” I remember my anticipation as I cracked the spine and turned to the first page.
I had been spending a lot of time asking God — begging God, actually — over and over again for some specific things that were not materializing. Frankly, it was beginning to feel a lot like that time I asked Santa Claus for a new house, only to wake up on Christmas morning to find ordinary, non-house-shaped presents under the tree — and a growing sense of suspicion that my faith had been ill-placed.
To the great disappointment of my pre-teen heart, my mother’s book was not a directory of magical phrases God is compelled to obey. It was a list that included things like “Forgive me” and “Help me.” I tossed it aside, disappointed.
I marvel at the wisdom and the confidence of the Canaanite woman who persists in begging Jesus to heal her daughter. She is ignored, and still she will not be deterred. The disciples try to dismiss her — still, she presses on. Christ himself challenges her, and her faith makes her ready with a reply.
Somehow, I am sure that even if Christ had said, “No, it cannot be done for you as you wish,” she would have still dropped to her knees and worshiped him, because she knew what I did not: God is not a vending machine, and he’s not the genie from “Aladdin.” Prayer is not a negotiation, but a relationship.
The story of the Canaanite woman is not a story about how to get God to give you what you want. It is a story about the prayers God always answers.
“Then Jesus said to her in reply, ‘O woman, great is your faith!’” — Matthew 15:28
By Colleen Jurkiewicz Dorman