How often have you prayed to God about something and it seems like your prayers just hit the ceiling, never to be answered? God does indeed hear our prayers. But very often God does not give an immediate answer, or his answer is no. Sometimes God will say no several times before he says yes. Here’s one such example from scripture: “Jesus went away from there, and withdrew into the district of Tyre and Sidon. And a Canaanite woman from that region came out and began to cry out, saying, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed.” But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples came and implored Him, saying, “Send her away, because she keeps shouting at us.” But He answered and said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and began to bow down before Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” And He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” But she said, “Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus said to her, “O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed at once” (Matthew 15:21-28).
Now, at first glance we might notice that Jesus first said no (3 times) because his mission at that time was focused on the Israelites. Then we think it is about the woman’s faith that turned Jesus’ mind. Yet, notice that there was nothing wrong with the woman’s faith the entire time she begged Jesus for help. In fact, the woman acknowledged Jesus’ authority three times, expressing her faith. She called Jesus, “Lord, Son of David,” professing his earthly authority as king (v.22). Then she went a step further and, “Bowed down,” calling him Lord. She recognized his spiritual authority (v.25). But then she did someone more remarkable for a gentile woman who was not only a gentile, but a member of a race that God originally consigned to destruction. She called Jesus’, “Master” (v.27). Look at these three in this list.
“Lord, Son of David” — She professed Jesus’ earthly authority
She “Bowed down” and again called him, “Lord” — She professed his spiritual authority
Then using Jesus’ own metaphor she called him, “Master” — She professed Jesus’ personal authority over her life.
Only after the Canaanite women—from an enemy race—expresses faith in Jesus as her personal master does Jesus answer her with a yes. This is why her faith was so great.
Does God answer your prayers? We may recognize Jesus’ earthly and spiritual authority, yet without a profession that Jesus is your personal master the answer may be no. If we want Jesus to say yes to us, we must say yes to him.
Jesus is more than king and Lord. He is your personal master. Like this Canaanite woman who was from an enemy race, so too we made ourselves enemies to God (Romans 5:10). Yet, when we surrender to Jesus personally, that’s when things begin to change. Knowing Jesus is king and Lord is good, but it’s not good enough. Professing him as personal master brings us into submission to him. Then, and only then, can we move the heart of God.