August 18, 2002: God Doesn’t Take Dictation—Only Humble Prayers

Let us pray: Dear Savior, You tell us that in this life we are to walk by faith and not by sight. Lord, when temptations come calling, when the faithless seem to get ahead while we’re left behind, when our lives don’t turn out exactly as we had planned—faith often gets trumped by sight and we become discouraged. Today remind us to never give up on You because You haven’t given up on us. Amen
TEXT: Matthew 15: 21-28
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:

She grew up in a Christian home. She went to church every Sunday. She was confirmed in her faith. She is smart, attractive, and married. Her husband makes his living in the performing arts. She assists him with her wonderful talents. There’s only one flaw in her life—and it’s a big one. She has given up going to church and given up on God. Why? Well, it seems that in their profession she and her husband have a lot of gay friends. She works with those folks, hangs out with them, and socializes with them. She has come to the conclusion that God must be a big meany for condemning their lifestyle because as she would say: “They don’t have a choice, they were born that way.” Of course, she has overlooked the fact that original sin infects people in a multitude of forms. She has overlooked the fact that wanting to do something and actually doing it are two different things.—Just ask the recovering alcoholic who wants to drink but refuses to because it is self-destructive behavior. She has overlooked the fact that homosexuals can change.—I know since I have some friends who have done so by God’s grace. But her biggest problem in all this is that fact that she believes she can dictate to God what is right or wrong, good or bad. In other words, her biggest problem is that she doesn’t have a humble heart which is willing to let God be God.

Since today’s lesson really addresses this issue, I want to remind each of you that:


Jesus has withdrawn to the hinterlands of Galilee to rest and be alone. Suddenly a Canaanite woman, a non-Jew, one who was generally reviled by all seeks him out and accosts him by crying out: “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.”

Why were the Canaanites outcasts? That’s simple. Historically they had rejected the Jewish faith, which in its truest form was also the Christian faith since it was centered in the Messiah and how he would come to save God’s people. Historically Canaanites and Jews were therefore enemies who had nothing to do with each other.—Until now.

It’s worth noting that this woman recognizes demon-possession. She understands that evil is real. Satan had sent a demon to take over her daughter’s body. And both she and her daughter were suffering as a result. Yes, I know this prayer might seem totally self-serving in that she asks him to have “mercy on me.” But this loving mother was also keeping the second table of the law in that she “loved her neighbor (her daughter) as much as she loved herself.” So, her prayer wasn’t merely a selfish plea, was it?


You’d think Jesus would immediately rise to the occasion and comfort this woman, who had humbled herself before the Messiah. But, “Jesus did not answer her a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, ‘Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.’”

The disciples aren’t impressed by her pleas. They’re embarrassed and upset that she kept on following them and asking Jesus for help. Hence the “get rid of her” attitude on their part. And Jesus? He seemingly ignores her. Finally, he does say to her and all within earshot: “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”

You’d think this brusque answer would put this woman off. You’d think she would turn tail and run away after hearing this. She isn’t an Israeli. She doesn’t revere Moses or Abraham or the prophets. Yet, she doesn’t leave. Instead, she comes and kneels before Christ and says: “Lord, help me!” By kneeling she was humbling herself. By calling him “Lord” she was saying: “I trust that you are the Messiah, the Savior of all.” Apparently she had heard about his miracles, had heard his teachings, and through all this the Holy Spirit had worked faith into her heart. So, she’s not dictating to him at all. She’s merely asking for his help and trusts that he’ll give it in his own time and own way. Note well that she doesn’t tell Jesus what to do. Neither does she put a time frame on it. She simply asks and trusts that “the Lord will provide.”

Again, Jesus seeming puts her off with what we would term a pointed rebuke. “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ she said, ‘but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.’”


I have two dogs who are never fed from the table. Even so, they still scrounge for crumbs. They’re content with mere crumbs because they totally trust me to take care of them and feed them at the proper time in the proper way. So, too, this woman. She has no arrogance, no pride, no selfish “me-ism” when it comes to her relationship with God’s Son. She’s totally humble. Her will isn’t important. But Jesus’ will is! Are you also willing to subordinate yourself to the Lord in all things? “Then Jesus answered, ‘Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.’ And her daughter was healed from that very hour.”

This lady is in heaven today because the Holy Spirit had worked the confidence in her that GOD DOESN’T TAKE DICTATION—ONLY HUMBLE PRAYERS. Christ lead her along in order to draw her faith out and to get her to show it—both to Him, to the disciples, and to herself. And then, at just the right time Jesus stepped in and threw that demon out of her daughter and made everyone’s life a whole lot better.
Dictating to God, demanding that He dance to our tune, can take on a lot of forms. The most common ones are: 1. Disagreeing with His Word because it is politically incorrect. 2. Picking and choosing what to believe about Him based on what the unbelieving world says. 3. Questioning His wisdom for us when our lives don’t seem to be quit as cushy as that of our friends who never go to church. And 4. Basically thinking that we’re smarter than God and that our wants and desires and insights trump His Biblical truths when they’re inconvenient.

My mother has a favorite expression. “What God ordains is always good.” Couple that with the words of our hymn: “O for a faith that will not shrink, tho pressed by many a foe. That will not tremble on the brink of poverty or woe. That will not murmur, nor complain, beneath the chastening rod. But in the hour of grief or pain, can lean upon its God.” Put all that together and you have the makings of a blest life. A life in which a humble heart is filled to the brim with Christ’s love. And since by His life and death on the cross He has proven His love for each of us—embrace Him in humility just as this woman did! And don’t forget that even today when it comes to our humble prayers he gives the same answer he once gave that poor woman: “You have great faith! Your request is granted!” Amen