Reminiscere (Lent 2)
Delivered By
Pr. Mark D. Lovett
Delivered On
February 24, 2013
Central Passage
Matthew 15:21-28


In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

I am sure that if this poor woman of Canaan had a pastor she’d have asked him, “Why do we pray? When I prayed the Lord ignored me. Then He called me a dog and said He wasn’t sent for me.” It is a question that is often asked and is just as often born of despair.

Look around you: murder, theft, lying, betrayal, rape, incest, divorce, and that’s just in Hoisington, maybe even just in your family. And yet you pray, don’t you? All Christians pray. The skeptic, who is sometimes our children or our spouse or a friend, or even ourselves, cries out, “What’s the point!? Why do we pray? God never hears; He never answers.”

Then you get Christian gurus who say things like, “That’s because you’re praying for the wrong things. You must pray for the right things for God to answer you.” But that’s no help. What are the right things? Is it not right to pray for your son or daughter to come back to the faith? Is it not right to pray for your husband to love you or for your wife to draw close to you? Is it wrong to pray that the hands of murderers be stayed or the evil of sociopaths be stopped? Is it wrong to pay for a bigger paycheck? A better working vehicle? A way to go to college? Or even just a gallon of gas to get to work? Is it wrong to pray for peace of mind?

If these are wrong, what are the right things to pray for? Then other self-appointed Christian gurus will say, “Well, you must pray that God’s will be done – you can pray for whatever, as long as you also pray for God’s will to be done.” But again, this is no help. Of course God’s will is going to be done. He’s God! But that’s a hollow prayer that falls from the lips of a mother praying for her dying daughter but knows that it doesn’t matter if she prays or not, God’s going to have it His way.

Another guru will say, “You must pray in Jesus’ name,” as if whatever you pray for will magically come to pass as long as you sign your prayer, “In Jesus’ name.” But how many prayers in Jesus’ name have gone unheeded in your life? To pray in Jesus’ name is to pray because Jesus is the Son of God. That’s why you pray, because Jesus is the Son of God; not merely saying His name like some magical incantation. All prayer is prayed in Jesus’ name because He is Lord and without Him there is no true prayer. No one but the Christian prays. All others – the heathen, the pagan, the worshipers of false gods like the Hindus, the Muslims, the Mormons, the Jehovah Witnesses, and all false Christians who are so in name only – they pray to deaf and dumb idols who can neither hear nor act. In fact, the Bible says they pray to demons. That is why we do not pray with them. That would be taking godly prayer and joining to the prayer of demons.

Without the Son of God there is no communication with God because no one knows the Father except the Son. And the Son gives us His Spirit so that we share in His prayer and petition the Father as though He is our Father. Which is why He teaches us to pray, “Our Father who art in heaven…”

He is your heavenly Father. He wants you to come to Him for everything. It is only earthly fathers who tell their sons and daughters to go away, they’re too busy for them. Children of heaven don’t annoy their Father who art in heaven. Indeed, you do not go to Him enough. You should be less worried about whether you are praying for the right or wrong thing, certainly you should not be worried that somehow God’s will is going to be thwarted by you or your prayers, and you should go to Him in the full confidence and assurance that He hears you, for He has promised to hear you because He has promised to hear Jesus and Jesus prays with you and for you by the same Spirit that dwells in you.

But the old devil comes around again and asks silly questions to sidetrack you. Silly questions like, “So you can pray for whatever you want, even if you know it’s wrong, and God will hear you?” When these sill questions of hell bubble up, command that demon foe to get behind you; he has not the things of God in mind but the things of man! Because when these question begin to take over you stop praying. And that’s the devil’s goal: to get you to stop praying and start worrying if you’re doing it right. But your heavenly Father wants you to pray to Him and to come to Him and to petition Him as dear children, for that is what you are; born of water and the Spirit. And that is why you have come to Him, to pray, to petition Him, to ask for His blessing.

And wouldn’t you know it, being a good Father He answers your prayer before you even pray it. For you pray for mercy and He has sent His Son. All your prayers, like the mother from Canaan, come from this one prayer, “Lord, have mercy.” Prayers for healings are obvious, but even prayers for better jobs and a nicer home and for green grass in the spring. They all come from the prayer for mercy. And your prayer has been answered. For the Man of Mercy has come.

All of God’s promises find their “yes” in Jesus. He is the answer to all your prayers. So Jacob clung to Him all night, even suffering life-long pain just to receive His blessing. And that poor Canaanite woman clung so closely to this One who is the answer to her prayer. Even through trial and despair, even amid doubt and difficulty, she clung ever tighter to Him who is her blessing. And both Jacob and the woman of Canaan receive far and above what they asked for.

Jacob received His blessing, not only in success with Esau, but the blessing of a new name, Israel, one who strives with God and overcomes. And the woman received not only a daughter who was made well, but a faith that is stronger than the slings and arrows of the evil one. So you receive a new name, one written in the Lamb’s book of life, and you receive a faith that is stronger than the slings and arrows of the evil one. You receive the faith of Jesus.

Your prayers are answered, Christian. Not because you pray for the right things or because you have a magical formula of names and incantations. But because your heavenly Father has heard your pleas for mercy and has sent you the answer to all your prayers, His only-begotten Son, Jesus our Lord.

Come and receive the answer to all your prayers.

+ In Nomine Iesu +