Blogging the Bible 263b – Mark 9:14-29 – Help my Unbelief

There’s a passage within today’s reading that I wanted to comment on separately, because I think it’s so important (and because it gives me a chance to share one of my favourite prayers!). In the story of how Jesus, coming down the mountain after the transfiguration, casts a spirit out of a boy and heals his apparent epilepsy, Mark includes these words from the boy’s father.
“I believe; help my unbelief.” (9:24)
I love this recognition that faith isn’t all-or-nothing, black and white; and that sometimes the greatest act of faith that we can offer is to ask for God to go beyond our own faith, being willing to be taken along for the ride.
Too often we limit what we are open to God doing in us and for us because we stop at the edge of our reach of faith. But God is bigger than our faith, and if we can manage just about enough faith to ask him to take over, he may have things ahead of us that are as yet beyond our dreams.
It’s ok not to be sure – about God, about yourself, about how you and he fit together. But don’t let that uncertainty stop you from putting yourself into God’s hands for as far as you are – and asking him to lead you into the rest.
The prayer that I mentioned is this,

Lord, I want to love you, yet I’m not sure.
I want to trust you, yet I’m afraid of being taken in.
I know I need you, yet I’m ashamed of the need
I want to pray, yet I’m afraid of being a hypocrite.
I need my independence, yet I fear to be alone.
I want to belong, yet I must be myself.
Take me, Lord, yet leave me alone.

Lord, I believe; help thou my unbelief

0 Lord, if you are there, you do understand, don’t you?
Give me what I need but leave me free to choose.
Help me work it out my own way, but don’t let me despair.
Come unto me, O Lord – I want you there.
Lighten my darkness – but don’t dazzle me.
Help me to see what I need to do and give me strength to do it.

O Lord, I believe, help thou my unbelief

Bernard, SSF

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