I believe, help my unbelief (Mark 9:24)
“Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”
This is a short prayer to our Lord Jesus Christ. It is a prayer acknowledging that without God we cannot believe as we ought to believe. This passage is part of Mark’s reference to the great problem which confronted our Lord when He came down from the Mount of Transfiguration. Jesus was transfigured in the presence of Peter, James and John.
When Jesus returned to his other disciples, a man pleaded with him to cast out an evil spirit from his son. The disciples could not cast out the evil spirit due to their lack of faith. Jesus casts out the evil spirit and teaches His disciples about fasting and prayer.
In this passage, Mark gives us part of a conversation between a father, whose child had an unclean spirit, and Jesus Christ. This poor man had brought his boy to the disciples and found they were unable to heal him. As soon as Jesus arrives, the father uses the opportunity to appeal to Christ Himself.
In order get a better understanding of this passage, it must be read in its context, which is Mark 9:14-29 (please take some time to read this passage). Often when we examine our faith, we see it to be dim and variable and lacking. In reading Mark 9:14-29 we see that this was the case for the disciples of Christ, who walked so closely to Him and of the father whose son needed healing.
In this story, we instantly see that Jesus had to bear with unbelief among His own people.
Mark 9:19 says “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.”
The failure of the disciples drew out from Jesus this surprising response. According to Matthew 17:17 Jesus calls the audience a “faithless and perverse” generation.
The reference to a perverse generation has old testament roots. It is applied to the Israelites in the song of Moses in Deuteronomy 32. Moses said they were a perverse and unbelieving generation. They saw the works of God and still did not believe. Therefore, God was deeply disappointed with them.
What this means is that we have hope. Though our faith may sometimes be almost nothing, there is hope through Jesus Christ, to rely on Him for our faith. Faith grows through a relationship with Christ, reading the word of God, through prayer, and humbly relying on Him.
Romans 10:17 says “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”
The lack of faith of the disciples disallowed them to drive out the evil spirit and indirectly caused more doubts to be seeded in the boy’s father’s heart.
Matthew 17:19-21 says “Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”
In contrast, let us examine the faith of the father of the child. It seems that in this instance the father had a little bit more faith than the disciples. In Mark 9:24 the father cries out, “I believe; help my unbelief!” This is a great prayer. It is a simple prayer. It is a prayer acknowledging that without God we cannot believe as we ought to believe. It is a prayer of utter dependence on God!
You see, this was the mustard seed prayer that was needed for breakthrough. Jesus said in Matthew 17:20, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, nothing will be impossible for you. This faith prayer – a mustard seed prayer – brought about deliverance for his son.
This means every ground of boasting from our end is taken away because we need to fully be reliant on Christ and Christ alone. Let us come in humbleness that brings all glory to Jesus Christ our God and Savior. This is exactly what the father of the boy did. He knew Jesus had the authority to help him trust Christ more. This was a simple heartfelt prayer to Jesus trusting him, to help his son be healed, and help his own unbelief.
Therefore, Jesus says in Mark 9:29 “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.” Prayer means we rely upon God, and it is a ready weapon in spiritual battle. Just as the father of the boy prayed a simple prayer, to help his unbelief. Ephesians 6:18 says “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,”
Finally, let us look at an example of one who had great faith in Jesus; in-fact his faith made Jesus marvel. This account is recorded in the gospels of Matthew and Luke.
Matthew 8:6-10 says “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.” And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he marvelled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.”
Jesus marvelled at the faith of the centurion. Again, we see a pattern. The centurion humbled himself, knowing that anything God did was an undeserved gift. He came humbly before the Lord, recognizing His authority. He focused on the needs of others (in this case, his servant), and finally, he believed Jesus could do whatever He said He would do.
His servant was instantly healed.
In conclusion, let us have a faith that marvels Jesus. May we not be faithless – but understand that small faith, even as small as a mustard seed, opens the door for Jesus to bring deliverance. Therefore, come humbly before Christ declaring that anything God does for us is an undeserved gift, focus on others and not just your needs and finally believe that Jesus can and will do whatever He says He would do. Pray and ask Christ to help your unbelief. Amen and God bless.