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Week Five | Praying with Chutzpah

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Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus Online Biblical Study
Reading Assignment – Chapters 9 & 10
Listen to the Audio version | Reading Time: 4 minutes

I often think back to my prayers as a child, even a teenager.  They often sounded something like, “Dear God, if it’s in your will, would you please consider maybe making this happen for me?  Please?” 

Can you relate?   

Growing up I always knew that God was almighty, that He was sacred, and that He was unparalleled.  Knowing these truths about God, I believed that I had to approach Him carefully, gently, and with as much submission as I could possibly muster.  These beliefs were evident in the way that I prayed, and in the way that I spoke to my Heavenly Father.  

As we continue to learn more about God through a Middle Eastern Lens, we often hear the Hebrew word chutzpah.  When someone is described as having chutzpah, this person is persistent, bold, relentless, and fearless.  

What part does chutzpah play when it comes to praying to our Savior?

Praying with Chutzpah

When I was younger in my faith and would go to Jesus in prayer, I felt almost as if I was walking on eggshells.  As such a powerful and almighty being, I always wanted to make sure I was showing my Savior respect and honor.  No part of me wanted to cross a line of disrespect or entitlement when it came to my prayers.    

As I would pray I often faced a lot of guilt.  God sent His only Son to die for my sins.  Jesus died a brutal death full of shame and humiliation for me.  How could I ask for Him to do anything else?  

As I grew in my relationship with God, and by spending time in His Word, I noticed many stories and examples of individuals consistently going to God, being persistent in prayer, and having chutzpah.  

Persistent Pounding

In one specific example in Matthew 15:21-28 (and Mark 7:25-30), we read about an encounter between a Canaanite and Jesus.  At this time, Jesus and His disciples are taking shelter in a hideout in Tyre.  Having just experienced the loss of John the Baptist, feeding the 5,000, Jesus and Peter walking on water, and challenging the teaching of the elders, Jesus and His disciples were understandably weary.  

In this hideout in Tyre, they hoped to avoid crowds and find a moment of rest, a moment of reset, and possibly even a moment to mourn.  Instead, their location was nearly revealed thanks to one Canaanite woman’s persistent pounding on the door with pleas for miraculous healing for her daughter. 

You see, this woman came to Jesus to ask for the demon to be removed from her daughter, but Jesus replied, “I was sent only for the lost sheep of Israel” (Matthew 15:24, NIV). By this Jesus meant that His ministry was at the time concentrated on Israel and its people.  While His ministry was meant for all, He informed her of the order in which His fulfillment would come.   

Her response was a burst of boldness–chutzpah.  

“Lord, help me!” she said.
Matthew 15:25, NIV

Essentially, after Jesus told her He could not help, she challenged Him.  She told him that she understood that as a Canaanite woman she did not currently have a place at His table.  This shows that she knew that there were blessings and healings enough for everyone at His table, and she asked for her share now.  

She came to Jesus knowing who He was, she begged on her knees at His feet and refused to take no for an answer.  At a time when Jesus was actively working to convince people that He was the Messiah, a Canaanite woman knew exactly who He was and had a strong faith in what He could do.    

Lois Tverberg states on page 118 of Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus that, after the confrontation, “Jesus healed her daughter and congratulated her for her chutzpah.  Believe it or not, Jesus actually liked this kind of boldness.”   

Bold, persistent, unflinching honesty, lacking trepidation, and timidness–these are all words I underlined in this week’s reading as it came to describing how Jesus wants us to be in prayer.  

Getting to know Jesus through a Middle Eastern Lens and working to understand His Word through its context has completely changed my faith journey.  The prayer life that I had when I was younger still exists, but it looks and sounds very different today.  Where there once was hesitance, trepidation, and timidness, now there is persistence, boldness, and unflinching honesty.  Like the Canaanite woman, I know that He is the only answer.   

My challenge for you today, friend, is to lay aside your reservations when approaching God.  Don’t be afraid to approach Him with honesty and persistence.  Our prayers are a direct reflection of what we believe to be true about God.  

What are your prayers saying?

1. The Hebrew word chutzpah means persistent, bold, relentless, and fearless.
2. Jesus healed the daughter of a Canaanite woman and commended her for her boldness. 
3. Jesus wanted us to pray with chutzpah.

What do your prayers say about your perception of God?
What would it look like for you to pray with more chutzpah?

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Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus | Lois Tverberg

A 7-week study that will challenge you to follow Rabbi Jesus more closely by re-examining His words in the light of their Jewish context, to provide a richer, deeper understanding of His ministry, compelling us to live differently, and to begin to understand why His first Jewish disciples abandoned everything to follow him, to live out His commands.

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Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus by Lois Tverberg - Fall 2022 Online Biblical Study | Intentionalfilling.com

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