Have you ever wondered if your lack of unwavering faith has hindered your prayers? I have.
Especially when I’ve prayed really hard about something. I read verses like Matthew 21:22, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer,” and it's easy to assume that because I haven’t received what I asked for, I must not have believed enough.
A little story in Mark 9 addresses this question.
Here’s the scene: a man has brought his epileptic, demon-possessed son to Jesus’ disciples for healing. When Jesus arrives, he discovers that the disciples have been unable to heal the boy. Seeing Jesus, the father asks, “'. . . if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.’
"'If you can?’ said Jesus. ‘Everything is possible for him who believes.’
“Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "’ I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!’”
With that response, Jesus commanded the demon to leave and healed the man’s son.
Jesus’ miraculous answer despite the father’s wobbly faith reminds me that I don’t have to have unshakable faith for God to answer my prayers. Here’s why:
The father did several things “right.” Here are two of them:
1. He brought his son to Jesus. This demonstrates he believed Jesus was able to heal him. That his faith wasn’t perfect and unshakable is evident by his words, “If you can do anything.” He’s not 100 percent sure, maybe he’s even grasping at straws, but he has some faith in Jesus.
2. He moved from less faith to more. When Jesus challenged his “If” clause with truth, “Everything is possible for him who believes,” he moved into an even greater faith decision:
“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” He declared his desire to trust Jesus wholeheartedly while honestly acknowledging that he still doubts.
We know Jesus was OK with his hopeful but afraid-to-be-disappointed faith because of his response—he healed the man’s son.
We can learn a few things from this man:
1. When we have a need, the only place to run is to Jesus.
2. We don’t have to know the outcome to be able to trust God with it.
3. We can be honest with him about our struggle to believe. (He knows anyway.)
4. We can ask God to give us more faith and help our unbelief.
5. We can trust God, regardless of the outcome.
The faith life is a long journey of small steps. Every time I trust God with something, my faith grows, and it becomes easier to trust him with the next thing. I don’t know if I’ll ever reach the point where I can trust God without even a smidgen of doubt, but every faith step I take in his direction brings me closer to that ideal. One day, like the centurion in Luke 9, I hope to amaze Jesus with my faith.
Now it’s your turn. What stands out most to you in the Luke 9 story? Of the five lessons listed above, which is the most challenging for you? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.