A father came to Jesus with his son, desperate. His son had long been tormented by a demon. And he had watched in agony for years as his son suffered. He probably often felt like there was nothing that could be done to help his child. But in Jesus, this father saw a glimmer of hope. He wanted to believe that Jesus could heal his son. And, in faith, he approached him and asked him, “Master . . . if you can, have mercy on us, and help us.” Mark 9: 17-22 To which Jesus responded, “‘If I can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.” And then – something remarkable. The child’s father, in tears, cried to Jesus, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.”
How many times I have prayed that same prayer. I know that I know that Jesus can do all things. But when I ask Him to do something for me, in my worldly eyes the problem seems so big; I seem so deep in it. And, although I know that He can fix it – take it away in an instant – turn it into good for His glory – I waiver, and doubt, and think, “But will He do that for me?” And then when I consider my own doubt, it makes me doubt all the more that it will be done for me – after all, I’m not supposed to doubt.
Jesus promises that all things are possible to those who believe. Matthew 17:20 The importance of not doubting in prayer is stressed to us. James 1:6 So what happens to our prayers when fear and doubt creep in? Do they become of no effect? I believe no – when we hold to Jesus’ perfect faith.
I believe that prayer is an expression of faith. Coming to God and presenting your problem, asking for help, is an action. It shows that somewhere inside – even if you doubt – you know that it is worth appealing to the Lord. The father of the tormented son obviously doubted – asking Jesus to help if He could. But he didn’t let that wavering stop him from stepping forward and begging Jesus to help him. He wanted to believe.
That is exactly how I feel. I know I am supposed to approach the throne boldly and confidently, without doubt. And many times I can – but what do I do when the doubt is there? Jesus knows we are not perfect, even our faith. And thank God, nothing depends on our perfection – not even the answers to our prayers. If it did, nothing would get answered. It all depends on Jesus.
I believe that Jesus’ response was not an admonition for us to not doubt in our prayers, although that is something to strive for, but it was a reference to Himself. “‘If I can?’ All things are possible to him [Jesus] who believes.” Jesus believed, without doubt, that He could heal this child. And He did just that – despite, or I believe because of, the father’s confessed unbelief. Jesus’ faith is perfect and unwaivering at all times. In fact, He is called the “author and perfecter of our faith.” Hebrews 12:2 His perfect faith can stand in the gap of our unbelief, if we will let Him do so.
We know that we can accomplish nothing through our own effort and striving. John 15:5 Yet many times, when it comes to believing, we take the burden on ourselves to be perfect. We feel that the miracle we are looking for rests on our own ability to never doubt. Nothing rests on our own ability, everything rests on Jesus.
Jesus never doubts that He can do what He has promised you He will do. And when that fear and doubt creep in, we have to hold to His perfect faith. It will “perfect” our imperfect faith. I believe that the father’s cry for Jesus to help his unbelief was the key to Jesus healing his son. The father knew and acknowledged that he waivered. He asked the only One with perfect faith to help him – not only with his son, but with his unbelief.
The next time Satan tries to steal your hope that your prayer will be heard because doubt has crept in – remember that it is not because of you that your prayers are heard, it is because of Jesus. Cling to His perfect faith, and let it fill the gap of your unbelief.
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