Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Desperate Faith: How to Pray When You Know You're Not Enough

I was listening again to the story in Mark 9, of the time when a father begged Jesus to deliver his son from torment, and Jesus listened, and did.

It's a justly famous story for the father's excruciatingly honest declaration,

"Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!" ....

Listening to it this time, I realized that the father's belief actually is very strong: he is willing to do whatever is necessary to save his son. Even if what is necessary is to believe.

If there is a miracle on offer, he will believe in it.

If believing is what is required, he will do it.

But he is so desperate, he cares SO MUCH, and--I think this is important--he is SO IN EARNEST--that he has to be honest about what he knows about his own ability - he knows he cannot believe enough, he knows he doesn't have enough faith, he knows he is in desperate, horrible, helpless need ... and that is why he is there in the first place.

And that is why we are before Jesus in the first place, too. When we go to church, when we approach the communion rail, when we hold out our hands before him in prayer: we are there because we are in such desperate, horrible, helpless need.

We have some faith (God's gift!), but it is not enough.

We have such need, and it has overwhelmed us.

So, in that place of desperate need and insufficient faith, here is what we must be sure of about ourselves: that we are not enough, that we cannot believe enough, and yet that we desperately need Jesus' help. He is the one who can free us of our demons and our torment.

Lord, I believe. Help thou my unbelief!

The first is needed for the second, and the first LEADS to the second.

And be sure of this: the Lord Jesus will meet us there. There in Mark 9, you see that our Lord responds to our honest confession of insufficiency. He takes our small, weak, desperate cries, and meets them with unshakable, sure, overwhelming strength. He is good and kind.

He will help our unbelief, and he will make us strong enough to see and to bear his mercies.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

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