Here’s one of those prayers in the Bible that I say pretty often even if I don’t know I’m saying it: “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)
Remember the story? A man comes to Jesus with his son, who has a spirit that makes him unable to speak, and when it overcomes the boy it dashes him to the ground, he foams and grinds his teeth and it sometimes throws him into the fire. Desperate as any parent would be, he hopes that Jesus can heal him.
“All things can be done for the one who believes,” Jesus says.
The man poignantly responds, “I believe; help my unbelief!”
I am so grateful to that man because in my faith and in my praying life there are too many times when I believe but I need help. I’m praying right now for a friend who has inoperable cancer and is going into palliative care. I’m praying for four dear friends whose mother died very suddenly. I’m praying for my own healing from a cold, cough and bronchitis that seems to have swallowed a whole month.
My best prayers are my most honest ones, and that good man with the son was so honest in his response. Yes, I pray, I believe you are there with my friend in palliative care and you are present at the funeral with my grieving friends and that you understand how bored I am with ill health. I believe; help my unbelief.
That kind of faith, even with its equivocating, was enough for Jesus. After all, he cast out the spirit and the boy was healed.
“Why could we not cast it out?” the disciples asked later.
“This kind can come out only through prayer,” Jesus said.