Rethinking Faith: Lord, Help My Unbelief!

I’m so ecstatic to be writing this post today! I just know it’s going to bring a great revelation to someone. I myself want to go whooping around the front yard with joy. But first, I have to tell you a story.

Several months ago (in the early summer) I was sitting in a Sunday morning service with a communion cup in my hand, listening to my pastor speak about the healing power of Christ’s blood. He said that it was possible to receive healing from communion if one had the faith.

At the time, I desperately needed healing. I had been struggling for 18 months with a digestive disorder that was becoming progressively worse. It had started as an occasional bout of diarrhea whenever I ate greasy fast food. But within a few months, it had devolved into any fast food. Then greasy food cooked at home. Then every night after dinner, no matter what I ate. The diarrhea was soon accompanied by crippling stomach cramps. I began to dread dinner. I cut pizza, sausage, bacon, ground beef and other heavy foods out of my diet. (I also had to cut out lettuce and ranch dressing, because that set me off, too. So no salad.) I began monitoring the amount of food I ate at night to prevent my stomach from becoming too full, another trigger. These changes reduced some of my symptoms, but did not eliminate them. I had just purchased a vegan cookbook, thinking that a drastic dietary change might be the only way to bring permanent relief. In the meantime, I had undergone a colonoscopy, an endoscopy, an ultrasound, and several blood and stool labs. The term “IBS” (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) was tossed around. But the doctors could not come to any definitive diagnosis. And for one problem they did manage to identify, they could not prescribe the antibiotic used to treat it. There was a nationwide shortage.

Now, here I sat with a communion cup in my hand. My last hope. I needed to believe in the healing power of communion. But my faith was coming up short. I knew all the Bible verses that say God heals. I’ve known people who were healed. Yet I’ve also known plenty of people who prayed and weren’t healed. And my rational mind was pointing out the ludicrousness of being cured by a mouthful of grape juice.

So, this was my prayer: “Lord, I know you are capable of healing me. But I don’t know if I have enough faith to receive it. So I’m just going to drink this juice and hope that you heal me. Help my unbelief.”

About three days later, all of my symptoms vanished. Within a month, I was able to resume my normal diet–pizza, hamburgers and salad included. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve had indigestion since then. Mind = blown.

My prayer was based on Mark 9:24. In this passage of scripture, a father comes to Jesus to request healing for his son. And his son doesn’t need just any kind of healing; he is demon-possessed–by a particularly strong and violent demon. The demon has been trying to kill the son since he was a child, so this has been a long-term problem. The Pharisees haven’t been able to help. Jesus’ own disciples haven’t been able to help. Jesus is literally his last hope. The man has heard all the miraculous stories of Jesus’ healing power. But this is no ordinary ailment. So his words to Jesus are, “If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

Jesus responds, “‘If you can’? Everything is possible for one who believes.”

The father believes, but his faith is small. Doubt threatens to overwhelm him. So he asks Jesus to “help my unbelief.” And Jesus drives out the demon.

Here’s the meat of the message: Oftentimes in church, believers are led to think that faith is something that comes from within them–that it’s something they’ve got to conjure up on their own. Coming to the altar with any shred of doubt in your mind? Don’t expect anything. It’s 100% confidence that God’s promises are for you, or nothing. So if you’re not fully confident, go home and meditate on the scriptures until you are.

But here’s what God says: Faith comes from Him! If we need more faith, we can just ask for it! And He’ll give it! You don’t have to come up with it on your own!

(I’ll pause here so you can scream “hallelujah!” I know, right?? I’m excited, too.)

Scripture totally backs this up. Aside from the story in Mark, we learn in Paul’s writings that faith is both a fruit (according to Galatians 5:22) and a gift (according to 1 Corinthians 12:9) of the Holy Spirit. No joke. It’s the only element that exists in both categories. It’s the only thing of which He brings a double dose. He is the source of all faith! The reason we are saved at all is that He has enabled us to believe in Christ. Jesus said,

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them.” (John 6:44)

How funny is it that we will pray for the ability to love and forgive our childhood bullies, pray for patience, pray for wisdom, even pray for humility, but never ask God for faith! Why do we think faith is something that must come from within our human nature? Nothing else listed here does! Just as the Holy Spirit enables us to love, He enables us to believe–for salvation, for healing, for blessing…whatever we need!

Think your faith is inadequate? It’s ok to tell God. He understands. The father in Mark 9 thought his faith was lacking. I thought my faith was lacking. Still, Jesus touched us both. He helped us to overcome our doubt. And it didn’t require six months of meditation and counseling. All it took was a simple confession and a prayer: “Lord, help my unbelief!” That’s it!

Need healing today? Need a job? Need peace in a difficult situation? Not sure your faith is enough to get the job done? Ask God for faith. He will give it. We don’t have to come up with the faith on our own. We can’t. God is the only source. So, no more psyching ourselves up to receive healing. No more worries about the strength of our belief. God will help us overcome our unbelief when we ask. Hallelujah!

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