A One Sentence Prayer

Do you ever doubt?

Is it ok to doubt? As a Christian, do you ever have doubts about God’s goodness and purposes, or whether he is in control in light of what is happening in our communities and our lives today? If you do doubt, does it make you feel guilty or less of a Christian?

David reminded us of a prayer that can help in such times of doubt; a one sentence prayer that anyone can quickly learn and say. It is a humble and honest prayer said by a dad who was a believer but who found himself in a crisis and at the end of his rope.

"I believe, help my unbelief" (NIV)
"I believe, help me with my doubts" (The Message)

Mark 9:24

When doubt is mentioned in scripture people often think of Jesus’ disciple Thomas, who doubted as he struggled to believe in the resurrection (John 20:24-28). Another reference to disciples doubting is found in Matthew 28:16-17, and in Jude 22 we are told to “Have mercy on those who doubt.” Therefore, for believers, doubt is not unusual or unexpected.

‘I think when a man says, I never doubt, it is quite time for us to doubt him’ – CH Spurgeon

In mark 9 we see a believer who is struggling in praying, when he says, “I believe, help my unbelief.”

What’s important are the first two words, ‘I Believe,’ which means to trust, to have confidence in, to rely upon. This man believed but recognised his doubt: he owned his unbelief, which he brought and gave to Jesus.

One of the critical lessons you can lean from this passage is to take your genuine doubts to Jesus and ask him to help you. If you don’t go to Jesus with your believing doubts, you will end taking them somewhere else or allowing them to consume you, which would be spiritually disastrous.

"But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us."

Mark 9:22b

When the man asked for help, Jesus did not rebuke him but said, “all things are possible for one who believes (v.23)” Jesus doesn’t say that all things are guaranteed or will happen, but that all things ‘are possible’ for the one who believes, so this is not a question about the extent of your faith.

The key is not the depth of our faith, but the direction of our faith – the key is not the potency of our faith, but the person out faith is in – Anon

Genuine biblical faith is only as strong as it’s object, and our faith is in Jesus. Just as the man brought his honest doubts to Jesus, so we need to bring our honest believing doubts to him, and know that he will be compassionate and do what is right for us.

"He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.""

Mark 9:29

When the disciples asked Jesus why they couldn’t cast out the spirit, he said that this kind could only be driven out by prayer. Jesus doesn’t appear to pray at this point, but we know from scripture that prayer was a part of his regular routine (Cf. Mark 1:35). Therefore, we can assume that he had already prayed, which enabled him to handle the situation powerfully and effectively.

The disciples needed to learn more about prayer than casting out spirits. This reminds us of the need to pray consistently in our lives. Don’t neglect the importance and discipline of regular prayer, because this will help you to handle any and every situation that comes your way.

If you are looking for a one sentence prayer, consider this:

“I believe, help my unbelief”

  • Name your doubts( if you have any), and bring them to Jesus
  • Why might those who doubt need to be shown mercy?
  • What is the difference between believing and unbelieving doubt?
  • Discuss the quote; ‘in times of doubt I don’t need more ‘faith’, I need more Jesus’
  • Why is regular prayer so important for regular living?
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