should be back-and-forth.

John 4:1–10

Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John (though Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His disciples), He left Judea and departed again to Galilee. But He needed to go through Samaria.

So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour.

A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.

Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.

Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”

Jesus is, for the time being, avoiding the Pharisees. This takes Him through Samaria. There He has His famous midday encounter with the woman at the well. Right from the get-go, Jesus takes this conversation to levels the woman is not expecting.

In fact, the woman doesn’t expect any conversation. The Samaritans are considered outcasts by the Jews, and any woman that shows up in the heat of the day must be considered an outcast by everyone. Jesus speaking to her is so bizarre that her immediate reply is to question His odd behavior.

Her defensiveness is understandable. She’s used to being mistreated. She may even have been afraid, not knowing what this unexpected visitor with an unexpected attitude would do next.

So Jesus takes it up another notch with the line, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.

This barely makes sense to us, and we have two thousand years of expert commentaries to draw on. This poor woman doesn’t have a chance.

Except that she does. Jesus custom-designed this whole conversation for her, and He knows exactly what’s in her head. She’s in for quite a ride.

Our conversations with the Lord usually begin (and end) with us talking. We start with things like, “Dear Lord,” or, “Our Father,” or, “Holy God.” The big difference between our typical prayers and today’s passage is the back-and-forth. Our prayers usually end when we say, “Amen.”

But prayers for guidance should “keep the line open.” The Lord’s guidance often comes in stages and can have many surprising twists and turns. You don’t learn much from an on-off prayer.

These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.