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Honesty in prayer

There has been a trend in recent years, largely due to the influence of the faith movement, that we need to declare faith and belief in the situations we face in our life. Some refer to this as ‘blab it and grab it’.

Yet, I am beginning to wonder if we need less declarations of faith and more honesty in our prayer life.

And we see that in the story of a man desperate to see his son healed of a demonic affliction.

After Jesus took Peter, James and John up on the Mount of Transfiguration for a remarkable encounter with some Old Testament saints, a man approached the disciples who remained below asking for help for his son who was being plagued by an evil spirit (Mark 9: 14-29).

However, the disciples were unable to deliver the boy, and when Jesus and the disciples came down the hill they encountered the commotion surrounding the failed deliverance.

The man then approached Christ, pleading for help.

First, he complained that the Lord’s disciples had been unable to deliver his son, and then asked “But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” 

This statement immediately caught Jesus attention, who responded “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” 

And the man desperately cried out, “I believe, help my unbelief.”

After hearing that wimpy declaration of faith, Jesus immediately delivered the boy.

But the thing that catches your attention was the man’s honesty.

Though he believed technically that God could heal his son, he was honest about his fears, unbelief and uncertainty if it was possible for his son to be delivered.

He asked for help in his unbelief, and Jesus responded by healing this boy not because of the father’s faith, but because of his honesty.

Often we pray, asking God for help, but secretly hold back on our true fears about the situation. We are not honest with God about our doubts and worries.

God desires honest prayers. He wants us to confess our unbelief. He wants to hear what we are struggling with.

James, the Lord’s brother, added a similar thought when he said, that we are to confess our faults to one another (James 5:16).

Though some versions translate the Greek word paraptōma as sin, it is not the word typically used for sin in the New Testament. Though paraptōma can refer to sins, it also describes unintentional errors, mistakes, faults, and offences.

James is calling for more honesty in our spiritual life, and then he adds that this confessional honesty can be the foundation for fervent effectual prayer, that can heal the sick.

84 | What does it mean to pray boldly?

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