DayBreaks for 9/04/14 – Total Concentration
Matthew 15:21-28 (NLT) Then Jesus left Galilee and went north to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Gentile woman who lived there came to him, pleading, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! For my daughter is possessed by a demon that torments her severely.” But Jesus gave her no reply, not even a word. Then his disciples urged him to send her away. “Tell her to go away,” they said. “She is bothering us with all her begging.” Then Jesus said to the woman, “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel.” But she came and worshiped him, pleading again, “Lord, help me!” Jesus responded, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.” She replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their master’s table.” “Dear woman,” Jesus said to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.” And her daughter was instantly healed.
The famous one-time Catholic monk, Martin Luther, was legendary not just for nailing a piece of paper to the door of his home church citing 95 things that needed to be changed about it. He wrote and lectured extensively to his students at the university as well. Some of his students were very good learners, and others were not so good. But a few of his students realized that some of the most valuable instruction that Luther gave was not in the classroom, but was in the dining hall over a meal and a few drinks. His students began taking notes on what Luther told them in that relaxed atmosphere, and they eventually published these notes in what was known as Martin Luther’s Table Talks.
One such example of the profound insight and truth Luther gave his students happened one day after class in the dining hall and they were all sitting around eating their meal and talking on the subject of prayer. A student of Luther’s by the name of Viet Dietrich preserved Luther’s words for us:
“When Luther’s puppy, Tölpel, happened to be at the table, looked for a morsel from his master, and watched with open mouth and motionless eyes, Luther said, ‘Oh, if I could only pray the way this dog watches the meat! All his thoughts are concentrated on the piece of meat. Otherwise, he has no thought, wish, or hope’” (Table Talks, May 18, 1532).
Martin Luther’s puppy reminds me of the woman in today’s Gospel lesson from Matthew. Although this woman was a Gentile, she was intensely focused in her request from Jesus. Jesus wasn’t being hard-hearted towards her – I believe he knew all along what he would do, but he wanted to teach us a lesson about concentrated faith and determined “asking”.
I fear we often throw our requests out to Jesus in our prayers in a rather haphazard, lackadaisical way that is not likely to meet with a response from him. We need concentration and focus! That means we have to take time to set aside for conversation with him – just as you would with your most beloved friend on earth.
PRAYER: With so much clamor, Lord, we are rush and get easily distracted. Help us concentrate on You when we talk with You and give You our requests so that we can hear Your voice! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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