The Doubter's Prayer
The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my
Over the centuries, some biblical prayers have
become particularly loved by Christians. The
Lord’s Prayer is one them (Matthew 6:9-13). The
Jesus Prayer (“Lord Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner”),
based on Luke 18:13, is highly regarded by the Eastern
Orthodox Church. Today I give you my favorite. Let’s call
it “the Doubter’s Prayer.”
Doubt and dimness surround its origin. Peter, James,
and John had just seen Jesus transformed on Mount
Hermon, but they missed the significance of the moment
(Mark 9:5-6). They returned to find some teachers of
the law (people hardly known for believing in Jesus)
arguing with the other nine disciples (v.14). Jesus had
authorized His team to cast out demons (3:14-15, 6:13),
but something had gone wrong. A father had brought
his demon-possessed son to the disciples, and they were
unable to help him (vv.17-18).
Jesus was frustrated by the faithlessness of all involved.
He called the boy forward, but the spirit caused him
to have convulsions. That’s when the father uttered his
desperate plea. “Have mercy on us and help us, if You
“What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus stated (v.23). Then
the man offered what has become the prayer of so many
doubting believers over the years: “I do believe, but help
me overcome my unbelief!” (v.24). I wonder if the man’s
faith had wilted once his hopes were dashed. What I love about the end of the
story is that Jesus granted the doubting dad his wish and freed his son (vv.25-27).
I’ve prayed the Doubter’s Prayer often. I’ve lacked faith that God would
come through in some matter, but I wanted to believe. Jesus is frustrated by
faithlessness, yet He responds to the Doubter’s Prayer. And for that, I’m most
thankful. —Sheridan Voysey
Read John 20:26 for another occasion when Jesus dealt with
a “doubter.” Notice how He responds to Thomas’ doubts.
What are you struggling to believe God for today—finances, healing,
deliverance, forgiveness? Why? What biblical promise can you hold
on to while you pray the Doubter’s Prayer?