For folks in the U.S., this week brings us The National Day of Prayer. This yearly event is one of the few reminders of our deeply religious roots. However, I don't want my thoughts to get lost in the U.S. rhetoric, the debate over the place of public prayer, or in the convoluted waters of church and state issues. My concerns run much deeper than these hotly debated, yet very important issues. I want us to ask ourselves a very important question: What would I let stand in my way and prevent me from coming to Jesus?

One place to look is our personal prayer life! What keeps us from going to Jesus in prayer and approaching the Father?

But the issue is bigger than prayer, isn't it! What offense by a brother or sister would I allow to so embitter me to my faith that it would keep me away from experiencing the presence of Christ in his Body, the church?

But the problem runs even deeper, doesn't it! What sin would I allow to compromise my whole-hearted devotion to Jesus?

As convicting as the questions are to me, there is one further question that I must ask myself. What insult or disgrace would anger me and stir my resentment so that I would not behave like Jesus?

I've spent a convicting week writing devotionals on the story of a dedicated mother who is often called the Syro-Phoenician woman. (Mark 7:24-30) I know I don't know all the nuances of Jesus' language as he speaks with this woman. (I do know there are some subtleties in the original that can't be fully conveyed in translation.) However, I do know one thing: this woman will not let anything stand between her and her goal — getting her daughter to Jesus so he will deliver her little girl from the power of evil.

Despite the legendary pride of her Phoenician heritage, this woman takes what appears to be an insult and turns it into a statement of faith.
Despite the Old Testament's repeated condemnations directed at the Phoenicians for their idolatry and Baal worship, this woman remains focused on the one true Savior for her daughter.
Despite the evil witness of her wicked "ancestor" the evil Queen Jezebel, she shows no malice, ill will, wickedness, or pride. Instead, she remains intensely focused on Jesus.

Let's remember what really matters.
Her actions are convicting to me! I know how easily I am distracted from my commitment to Jesus and my focus on what matters. I know how easily I became absorbed in their athletics, drama, music, and academics that I lost sight of the most important issues in my children's lives — getting them to Jesus and delivered from the influence of evil. I know how easily my pride can make me resentful toward religious slights. I know how easily I succumb to a perverted sense of entitlement about God's grace.

Here is a woman who has a desperate need, yet she pursues Jesus undeterred! Jesus seems to say harsh words to her, words that would have inflamed nearly anyone else in her position, yet she turns the whole issue around and uses the opportunity to make an incredible statement of faith and humility.

So let's remember her — this unnamed woman of faith, humility, and tenacity. Let's also remember the issue — getting someone she loved out from under the influence of evil. Let's remember what really matters — Jesus is the one who can help us most in these undertakings. Let's not allow anything to stand in our way of getting those we love to Jesus so that they can receive his deliverance.

We also pray that you will be strengthened with his glorious power so that you will have all the patience and endurance you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father, who has enabled you to share the inheritance that belongs to God's holy people, who live in the light. For he has rescued us from the one who rules in the kingdom of darkness, and he has brought us into the Kingdom of his dear Son. (Colossians 1:11-13)