‘As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you.’ 1 Samuel 12:23a
It is written that ‘those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength’ (Isaiah 40:31a), but still we read that Jesus Himself sometimes was tired (John 4:6). In today’s passage, we read that Jesus withdrew from the Jewish land and went to the region of Tyre and Sidon. There He wanted to be alone with His disciples and with His heavenly Father. But there too, no rest was granted Him.
When the Canaanite woman approached Him, He did not pay attention to her and did not answer her. It seems the disciples were more moved by the plight of this woman. ‘Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.’ After all, they too could have sent her away. Apparently, they wanted Jesus to listen to her, for Jesus answered, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.’ But the woman did not accept so easily to be rejected. It was, definitely, not without reason that Jesus later would say to her, ‘Woman, you have great faith!’
How weak and uncertain is our faith, compared with hers! How little do we persevere in prayer. Or we fall in the other extreme and persist fanatically in our prayer, against all odds. But there was no trace of fanaticism in this woman. She understood her position. Apparently, she knew how great the love of God is. Unwavering, she stayed faithful, even after this clear rejection of Jesus.
In the Bible, we read of only a few people who - because of their priestly faith - dared to say ‘no’ to God; like Moses - who pleaded for the people of Israel who had sinned so gravely against God - and like this Canaanite woman who persevered on behalf of her child.
Yes, God will always answer the prayer of a priestly heart!