Overcoming Doubt through Prayer
Read Mark 9:14-29
"I do believe; Help my unbelief."
The father was desperate. His son had suffered intensely because of demonic possession. When he came to the disciples, they proved helpless in the face of such a formidable foe. By the time Jesus arrived, he was a man without hope. For him, Jesus was his last hope, and even then, it seemed unlikely that help was available. In this request, we see both desperation and hopelessness, "If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us!" Christ immediately locked in on the hopelessness of the man by pointing out the power of simple faith in Christ, "' If you can?' All things are possible to him who believes." Christ points out what we saw in James, namely that doubt is the opposite of faith. Doubt undermines our trust in God and our obedience to him. Yet, the reality is we still struggle. As much as we desire to walk by faith, no matter where we are in our spiritual pilgrimage, doubt and uncertainty creep in.
In the face of our struggle with doubt, it is the father's response that is so poignant. Recognizing his lack of faith, he does the only thing he can: cry out for Christ to help. This becomes the paradox of faith; in his admission of his lack of trust and his need for divine assistance, we discover the actual depth of his faith. He responds by asking Christ for help, not just in healing his son but in his struggle with doubt and unbelief. "Immediately, the boy's father cried out and said, 'I do believe; help my unbelief." In his prayer, he reveals that even as he struggles to believe, he recognizes that the power of prayer is not in the confidence we might have but in our act of dependency upon God for all things.
Instead of embracing and justifying his doubt, this broken-hearted father recognizes his dependency upon Christ for all things, including faith itself. In the frailty of our sinfulness, we struggle with doubts. We struggle to surrender ourselves to God fully. The first step is to recognize that we need Christ to strengthen our faith and trust in him to overcome these doubts. We must begin with first prayer of confession and admission that we are reluctant to surrender to him. Transitioning from the realm of doubt to the certainty of faith begins by admitting that only God can enable us to overcome our doubts and instill an unshakable faith.