Wednesday, August 15, 2012

From Zero to Hero

Several years ago, I was introduced to one of the simplest of silent prayers I have ever heard. When we breathe in, we were encouraged to pray “Father” and on the exhale to say, “I belong to You.” The teacher (Brennan Manning) said that seven is the ideal number of syllables in one breathing cycle. Therefore, if we decide to pray this way, we can “pray continually.” (1 Thes. 5:17)

If she was not praying this prayer, I imagine the Syro-Phoenician woman (Mark 7:24-30) was praying something very similar. She may have been praying “in You, I have all things” or “my soul rests in You alone” (Psalm 62:1) as her actions showed a sense of desperation. It was with that kind of drive that this Zero-Phoenician woman recognized that though she had nothing in herself, what she needed was available to her if she only asked for it.

However, moments after she asked, Christ criticised her harshly, calling her, a gentile who was plainly inferior to the Jews, a dog (v27). Instead of being overwhelmed with sorrow or surprise, she knew that behind this criticism was a loving and healing touch, and she was humble enough to receive the criticism so she could get what she believed would soon follow.

Therefore, in spite of Christ’s comments, she played His game and responded boldly, “even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” (v28) Her attempts to clamber for Christ’s attention clearly show how desperate she was to receive anything that might come from Him, even the crumbs.

When I was a child at camp, I remember trying to Limbo underneath a stick without touching it. All this time, my friends, who patiently awaited their turns chanted ‘How low can you go?’ This woman had gone lower than anyone expected and Christ therefore rewarded her by granting her request. It was with her persistence, humility and quick wit that this Zero-Phoenician came trembling, and left rejoicing because her status had been permanently changed.

  • When was the last time you prayed like this?

  • What difference would it make to you if your status permanently changed?

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