Before Jesus arrived, a father had asked the disciples to help his demonized son (Mark 9:14-29). They failed. The man was disheartened. Now in response to Jesus’ questions, he says, “But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
Jesus leans into this man’s hopelessness and says, “‘If you can’? Everything is possible for one who believes.” Jesus is inviting the man to shift his trust from his confidence to Jesus. Jesus will do good things for those that trust in Him.
The man cries out this simple prayer: “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” This father is not confident how things are going to work out for his son, but he is choosing to trust in Jesus to work them out for true good.
There will be times when we too have no confidence in how a seemingly hopeless situation will be resolved. Jesus is not asking us to believe in our faith, he is asking us to believe in Him and His goodness. Crying out in simple prayer is one way to make this shift.
Simple prayer involves no pretense or performance, no flowery words or superficial spirituality. It is unrehearsed and real communication with God. Richard Foster writes this about simple prayer:
“We do not pretend to be more holy, more pure, or more saintly than we actually are. We do not try to conceal our conflicting and contradictory motives from God—or ourselves. And in this posture we pour out our heart to the God who is greater than our heart and who knows all things (1 John 3:20).”
Are simple prayers something we can try in our private relationship with God?
Are simple prayers something we could try as we learn to pray for one another?
A couple of weeks ago, Pastor Dave challenged us to pray out loud. I asked myself why most of us are so reluctant to do so. There are several reasons or excuses we may offer, but I think the root of them all is fear.
Fear can touch and interfere in every aspect of our lives. I know it did and at times still does in my own life.
Think of your own fears. They may be things like the fear of snakes, water, public speaking (praying out loud), entering or exiting a room full of people, answering the phone, confrontation or being rejected, insecurity or failure. The list can go on and on.
Why can’t we get past these fears? Why do we have them? Sometimes, it is good to have a certain amount of fear. Usually those types of fears prevent us from seriously injuring ourselves – things like climbing down slippery rocks beside a waterfall, or skiing down a very steep hill, or crossing the road in front of a car or bus.
Think of when you were learning how to ride a bike or how to swim. Remember how afraid we were to stick our heads under the water or to jump into the deep end. Remember the feeling when you realized that your Dad was no longer holding the back of the seat and you were now on your own. Remember when you crashed and fell off and scraped your knee? Fast forward to when you finally conquered the bike and rode all over the neighborhood with your friends. Your fear of riding a bike was gone. Think about now, when you simply jump into the deep end or into the lake from the dock without a second thought.
What happened? Where did the fear go? Simply put, we got past the fear. Our physical ability, perseverance and desire to learn how to do these things worked for us. “Self-reliance” worked!
Now think of some of those other fears we still have. That nothing we do allows us to get past the sometimes debilitating fear. Our self-reliance has failed us. Self- reliance was good as far as it went, but it hasn’t gone far enough. Some people have great self-confidence, but it hasn’t fully solve their fear problem. Some of us are so self-conscious that we simply can’t get past many of our fears.
Perhaps there is a better way. We as professing Christians, (that is if we aren’t afraid to say so) are to trust and rely upon God to manage our lives for us. Faithfully, we have turned our will and our lives over to the His care. (don’t we sing that we have surrendered all to Him) We are in this world to play the role He assigns. Just to the extent that we do as we think He would have us, and humbly rely on Him, we are told in the bible that He will enable us to match calamity with serenity.
Michele Dube gave us a verse during his sermon on Sunday morning. Acts 1:8 says that “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth”. When we accepted Christ, we were given the power of the Holy Spirit. If we are to be God’s witnesses, He will remove those fears and anxieties that stand in the way of doing what He wants and asks us to do.
Faith means courage. We as people of faith are to be courageous and learn to trust God. Let God demonstrate, through us, what He can do. Ask God (pray) to remove our fear and direct our attention to what He would have us be.
Through my own experience, I can tell you that God will remove the fears that are stopping us from doing His will. He will give us the courage to challenge and conquer the fears and anxieties that are preventing us from living a positive life filled with strength, peace, calmness and serenity.
I loved Pastor Dave’s article and I really love Doug Hawkin’s response! Our God is not the author of fear and there is great freedom to be who He has created us to be when we do not let fear hold us back! The evil one knows that fear will keep us from walking freely and openly in God’s Kingdom—may we grow more and more in fear-lessness and may we be a people who live out God’s purpose for us “freely” as we depend on him and his leading—whether that be in our prayer life, our daily walk and talk and so much more! .