Jesus

The Danger of Accepting Scraps in Prayer

We had just finished lunch and were sipping tea when my friend shared her frustrations about prayer. Her forty year old unmarried daughter had no interest in her mother’s faith. Praying passionately God would give her daughter Christian husband so she would become a Christian proved vain. Her daughter remains an unbeliever and single to this day. My friend feels like the woman of Canaan pleading with Jesus to help her daughter only to be ignored.

We had just finished lunch and were sipping tea when my friend shared her frustrations about prayer. Her forty year old unmarried daughter had no interest in her mother’s faith. Praying passionately God would give her daughter Christian husband so she would become a Christian proved vain. Her daughter remains an unbeliever and single to this day. My friend feels like the woman of Canaan pleading with Jesus to help her daughter only to be ignored.

If Jesus has not responded to a prayer there is a good reason. We ask and receive not because we ask amiss (James 4:2-3). How can God yoke her unbelieving daughter to a believer when the Bible tells us “do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers?” Unlike my friend’s experience, Jesus answered the prayer of the persistent Canaanite woman for her daughter, but there is evidence the woman lived to regret it.

Jesus heard the Canaanite woman’s prayer the first time she cried out for help. He ignored her. Refusing to be denied the woman pleaded with Jesus’ disciples to help her. They could not help her and could not get rid of her, so they asked Jesus to send her away. Instead of doing what his disciples requested, he explained why he did not respond to her. God had given him a specific job to do on earth. Restore the lost sheep of Israel. The woman was a gentile and their time to be adopted as children lay in the near future.

In the middle of Jesus discussion with his disciples the troublesome woman stopped pleading for help and tried worship. When she stopped begging for help and worshiped him, Jesus told her why he did not want to help her. It is “not right” to give the children’s bread to dogs. Some translations say “not good”. Instead of respecting God’s wisdom she relied on human wisdom. “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their master’s table” Matthew 15:27.

Smart woman. She acknowledged Jesus spoke the truth. Everything went downhill from there. Acknowledging Jesus spoke the truth also acknowledged she was willing to receive something that is not right and good. Her persistence put Jesus in a no win position. If he refused to give her what she wanted, she would hate him and everyone who heard about it would hate him for his lack of compassion. If he gave her what she wanted wrong and bad things would enter her life and she would wonder why?

Matthew has three stories of people bringing a demon possessed person to Jesus. Where was the woman’s daughter? The fact is some people invite devils into their life and do not want to be free. I was invited to a pagan ceremony in downtown New Orleans as an observer. Before they started, the leader gave instructions on how to bribe devils to leave you alone during the ceremony. The pagans who brought me to the ceremony did not participate. They did not want strange spirits to enter them. Most of their fellow pagans did. They marched around the image of a snake painted on a pole as they summoned spirits knowing the spirits would enter them.

The daughter’s absence strongly suggest she was not ready to be free of her devils. Her mother did not think Jesus knew what he was doing and refused to be denied. Jesus gave the woman what she wanted, “Oh, woman your faith is something else. What you want is what you get” Matthew 15:28 The Message Bible. The woman had faith to move mountains, but she did not have love and without love you gain nothing (1 Corinthians 13:2-3).

I surveyed twenty different translations of the Bible. In all of them the woman said, “Have mercy on me.” ME! Love is not self-seeking. Shouldn’t she have said, “Have mercy on my daughter.” Her demon possessed daughter made her life a misery. Mother was seeking what is best for mother, not what is best for her daughter. She believed if the demons were gone life would be wonderful again. The real problem was not the devils, but the daughter who allowed devils to enter her life.

The Bible tells us what happens when devils are cast out.

“When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.” Luke 11:24-26

Jesus swept the daughter’s house clean, but the daughter was not seeking him. Jesus knew the devils would come back. He also knew if he granted the mothers request the final condition of her daughter would be worse. That is what happens to people content to be dogs eating scraps off the floor. If you were a dog before you ate the scraps, you will be a dog after you eat the scraps. A dog returns to its vomit (2 Peter 2:22). That is why it’s not right and good to give the children’s bread to dogs.

Jesus knew the door allowing Gentiles to enter his kingdom would soon open. If the woman had respected his wisdom and waited for God’s time both the mother and the daughter could have become children. They could have enjoyed bread at Jesus table instead settling for scraps under the table. Then Jesus could have healed her daughter without her condition becoming worse. His Spirit would have displaced the devils in her life and prevented them from returning with friends.

Jesus is wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove. He knows how to keep his hands clean and his heart pure. If you give him no choice he will give you want you want. The misery you bring into your life is your fault not God’s.

13 comments on “The Danger of Accepting Scraps in Prayer

  1. That’s a very interesting, thought provoking take on the text, not something I’ve heard before.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Interesting weaving of several scriptural texts and different translations to support a harsh condemnation. Jesus’ rebuke of the religious leaders of the day was in response to their legalistic shenanigans that the common people could not decipher much less adhere to. You are attributing to Him the same sort of trickery. I think you are wrong.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Kitsy, I respect your opinion. No one was condemned or rebuked by Jesus or me in this article. Jesus was trying to help her. This is an appeal to be patient when Jesus says, “NO.” Not only does he have a good reason, he wants us to have better in life than scraps. He wants all of us sitting at his table eating bread to the full. When we don’t trust his wisdom we make our problems worse.

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  4. Anonymous

    There is no evidence in scripture that the woman’s daughter invited back a demon or that she didn’t. That is purely an opinion of yours. And building a doctrine on that speculation is not profitable. Jesus does initiate conversation with a Samaritan woman at the well. There was a centurion who didn’t bring his child with him to Jesus to ask for healing. He was Roman not Jewish. And Jesus was just as impressed by his faith as the Canaanite woman’s. Your “reading between the lines” is fine for you, if that is what you want to believe, but when the scripture says that Canaanite’s child was “healed at once”. That is what the bible leaves you to believe about the rest of the daughter’s life. I don’t think it’s profitable to add onto that story just because there was a chance of her inviting the devil back into her. I don’t think that whole scenario was about Jesus trying to keep back a request that may not be good for her in the long run. He stated what it was about exactly. He was sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel first. And that is what the Bible leads us to believe about his motive. Beyond that the bible really doesn’t state His motive for doing that. None of us can say with certainty why he tried to ignore this woman. Every man for himself on this one, including you. But I do disagree with this blog. Some people take Paul saying not to be unequally yoked as a command, and that is fine for them, but I take it as godly wisdom. Sometimes stupidity is not sin, it’s just not wise. I was unequally yoked in marriage, but did not feel convicted for it. I know testimonies of believers marrying unbelievers and the unbeliever was not only sanctified by the believing spouse, (as the scripture says) but was also saved eventually. So I think that there is another reason all together why her prayers seem not to be answered, because we all know, (because the scripture says so) that God hears us. Why is she even praying for a believing husband to change her? Why don’t she just pray for her salvation? Not everyone wants to be married. I would change my prayer. Because the Bible says and she can stand on this, that it is God’s will for ALL men to be saved and come to the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank You for taking the time to offer a different point of view. It was not my intent to state as fact what happened to the woman’s daughter, or that she was not healed. I only said there is evidence that the woman lived to regret it based on the scripture about devils returning after they are cast out. I believe Jesus is God, and the Bible states clearly that it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, when Jesus said it is not good to give the woman what she wanted, he spoke the truth. Any other outcome would prove him to be a liar.

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  5. You imply that when Jesus did as she asked, that He:

    1) did so because she tricked Him or backed Him into a corner (which was impossible to do as He was/is the Omniscient Son of God and knew what would happen before she come on the scene;
    2) did something that would come back to bite her because her daughter would end up worse off that she was to start with. Doing something that results in more harm is totally out of character for Christ, unless the mother were a minion of Satan. As it was, she was merely a desperate loving mother.
    3) expected the mother to know the scripture of which you write concerning demons returning from whence they came…and with friends, i.e., that her request would have an adverse outcome.

    Many people whose prayers are not answered in the way they hoped are often told, “You didn’t ask it in the right way” or “Be careful what you ask for” or “You didn’t hold your mouth right.” The Jesus I know does not stoop to the use of loopholes or fine print.

    I suggest you consider adopting the Hippocratic Oath: Do No Harm You belong to the Church of Making Matters Worse. Jesus tells us to come to Him with the innocence of a child. He does not add that we have complete knowledge of scripture (before it has even been written) nor have our requests drawn up by a lawyer before we kneel before Him.

    BTW, I did not say that He rebuked, or even warned, the mother. Your story would have conveyed a more accurate portrayal of Christ, if He had.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I would like to add that we Can trust His wisdom …and that it is far and above better than our own.. That’s why if we do not get what we ask, we know He knows better. Jesus is Not going to answer prayers with scraps or partial answers that result in more trouble. To imply that possibility would put the burden of omniscience, wisdom, and discernment on us…which He does not do.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Why did God give Israel King Saul after he warned them it would not be good? I agree, God will not answers prayers that result in more trouble unless a person or persons reject the truth because he or she knows the truth, and rejects the truth because they think their solution is better than Gods.

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      • You are comparing a desperate mother of a possessed child with a nation of people who had known God since their beginning but who chose to have a king.

        I will ask you, did the mother of the possessed daughter know “the truth” about demons and dogs and “reject the truth” because she thought her solution was better? No, she was desperate for anything that might help…even scraps. Salvation for her and her daughter was not possible at that point.

        Your title, while clever and attention grabbing, states that there is danger in praying to God, implying that praying can do more harm than good if you ask for the wrong thing, i.e., have incomplete knowledge of spiritual laws and scripture.

        My point still stands.

        Jesus is not going to deal with your friend in the same manner that God dealt with Israel. Nor is her situation the same as that of the desperate mother; salvation is possible for your friend.

        Your intentions were good in trying to reason with your friend about the nature of her prayer…the fact that her prayer was limiting and ‘scraps’ by comparison to salvation.. But your piecing together bits of scripture and Biblical stories to convince her that the outcome would be dangerous, and illustrating your point with your imagined outcome of the story of the mother of the possessed daughter, was off target and not helpful.

        God wants one thing: our reconciliation with Him. Your response to your friend would have been better if you had said that her prayer was not answered to her liking because it would not solve her problem: her relationship with God.

        Your post conveys an image of God that scares people away…that it is dangerous to approach God if you don’t have all the facts, etc.

        If you are wanting to draw people to Christ, the approach of your post is not going to do it. The better approach would be to encourage your friend to ‘go for the gold’ and pray for her relationship to God. Show her that ‘fear of God’ means respect and admiration, not distrust or wariness.

        I will leave this with another story of “be careful what you pray for.” A friend of mine was facing gall bladder surgery and his surgeon was discussing the recovery procedure. “You won’t be able to lift or pull anything for several weeks, if not months.” My friend was a landscape nurseryman who had to water acres of potted plants daily…by hand. He talked it over with God and God brought to his mind the (then new) hoses of drip irrigation. My friend prayed, “That’s It, God. That’s what I need…drip irrigation.” My friend went into surgery with his mind at ease. When he came out of the anesthesia in recovery, he looked about the room and noticed the bag of fluid hooked to his IV. On the bag were printed the words, “Drip Irrigation.” Be careful what you pray for.

        That’s a funny story and my friend had a wonderful sense of humor and enjoyed telling that story. But he would never imply to anyone that God had a cruel, ‘gotcha,’ sense of humor.

        While it is true that if God helps us rid ourselves of demons, unless we fill that ‘hole’ with His spirit, demons can and likely will return, that was not the issue with your friend and I daresay, the gentile woman very likely sought out more knowledge of Jesus and sought her own salvation and possibly convinced her daughter to do the same…but that is my imagination filling in the untold rest of the story.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Anonymous

    Also I’m Lindy Norris, I’m the Anonymous guy up there, because logging into face book some how didn’t work on that comment. I don’t know Teena if I would put myself in that kind of spiritual environment even as an observer. I’ve had a past with witchcraft and spiritual guides. And I know that stuff is real and proverbs tells us that a wise man foresees evil and hides himself. So it’s a dangerous spiritual environment for sure. Not that the Lord is not stronger than the devil, just that why would we put ourselves in bars? We don’t as a practice put ourselves in those environments. There are probably a lot less demons in the bars than there were in that place you were at. No offense. Just my opinion. Unless the Lord sent me there to CAST OUT demons, I wouldn’t go.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you for your concern. I write a blog on NOLA.com (Louisiana’s Times Picayune) called Faith Beliefs and Spirituality. They wanted the blog to include more than the Christian view point, so I visited the Pagan ceremony when a Pagan friend invited me. I also visited the Buddhist and interviewed an atheist which became subjects of an article. Today the blog is primarily Christian simply because I am a Christian and people of other faiths are reluctant to talk freely about their beliefs to me.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi dear! Your take on this is interesting, and I’ve never heard it before. I kept reading hoping to find the evidence you spoke of in the second paragraph (“but there is evidence the woman lived to regret it”), but maybe I missed it.

    Please what is the evidence that the woman regretted the healing she sought for her daughter? Is it written that her daughter became possessed again after being delivered? I just wanted to be clear on that.

    Thanks for a thought provoking piece.

    Sincerely, Ufuoma.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank you for reading the article Ufuomaee. The evidence is in Jesus teaching about devils seeking to return to the place they were cast out of in Luke 11:24-26 and in 2 Peter 2:22 which states a dog will return to its vomit. Both of these scriptures are quoted in the article. I am not stating as fact what happened to the woman’s daughter only pointing to evidence that Jesus had a good reason to deny the woman’s request. And challenging people to accept God’s wisdom instead of insisting on our solution to problems. We can have great faith that moves mountains but should we use faith to move a mountain after Jesus said it would not be good?

    Liked by 1 person

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