"Ask God to work faith in you, or you will remain forever without faith, no matter what you wish, say, or can do." -Martin Luther.
One of my life prayers is: "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" It comes from Mark 9:24, from a man who is pleading with Jesus to save his son from an evil spirit.
I love this story. I love it because, it is totally something I would say. Everyone else Jesus encounters exclaims, "Yes, I believe! Yes, I have faith!" Jesus is pleased with their faith, and He grants their desire.
But this guy, he's struggling with some serious doubt. He wants to believe. He's trying so hard. He believes a little, but he is not sure if it is enough. He is not only begging for a healing; he is begging for the faith to believe that healing will come.
When I read this story, I see myself. I am the doubter. I try to shrug it off by saying that it is myself I am doubting, not God. But since God said that His Spirit lives in me, and I can do all things through Him, then by doubting myself, I am doubting Him. I am saying that my weakness is greater than His strength, my fears are greater than His grace. How messed up is that?
That is why I pray this prayer. Because I want to believe. I say I believe, but I still lack the faith to step out of the boat, regardless of how many inspiring sermons I hear telling me to do so. I know I'm supposed to trust God, I know I'm supposed to step out of my comfort zone, I know, I know, I know. I just don't know how. I don't know how to make myself believe.
It has a lot to do with remembering, I think. Remembering how God has moved in the past, the promises He's made, how awesome He is. Spending time with Him. It's all basic stuff, really. The trouble is, I'm an expert forgetter. I'm like the Israelites, whining about how thirsty I am right after I watched God part the Red Sea for me.
I can beat myself up over it (I often do), but that doesn't actually help. So instead, I do my best to pray the prayer, I do my best to believe. I want so badly to have more faith. But what can I do?
Not much. That is the truth I have to be reminded of, over and over again. Faith comes from God. I'm not strong enough to believe on my own. I'm not even strong enough to want to believe on my own. God did this on purpose. He knows how easily I make everything about myself, when He wants me to forget about myself and depend on Him. So, He allowed me this weakness (among many others, I assure you). A weakness which can only be transformed to strength by His grace.
But back to the story. Remember? The father, struggling with doubt, begging for Jesus to heal his son? The man cries, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" And do you know what Jesus does? He helps the man overcome his unbelief. By healing his son.