This morning’s devotion, “An Honest Prayer for Faith,” was written by Larry Parsley. It’s taken from his new devotional, An Easy Stroll Through a Short Gospel: Meditations on Mark, available through Mockingbird’s online bookstore and Amazon.

“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:23–24)

I mentor a middle school boy over the lunch hour, and our rendezvous point is the cafeteria. While I wait for him, I marvel at the assistant principals and teachers who have lunch duty. There are so many students, and so few adults. They walk around with solemn faces, eyes peeled for the next round of hijinks or outbreak of violence.

I don’t ordinarily picture Jesus as a middle school principal, but this passage bends my mind in that direction. As he descends from the mountain with Peter, James, and John, he finds chaos in the valley. The “teachers of the law” are arguing with the other nine disciples, who are in turn engaged in conflict with a distraught father over his demon-possessed son. These same disciples who earlier channeled the power of Jesus (6:12-13) have been utterly helpless with this afflicted boy. And Jesus must somehow attend to the chaos breaking out all around him—chaos connected one way or another to a lack of faith in Jesus.

Later, he will speak to his disciples about faith and prayer. But the heart of the passage for me is found in this tender conversation Jesus has with the boy’s father. Helplessly, the man asks Jesus to do something, if he can. Jesus takes exception to the “if” and urges the distraught dad to put his faith in him. “I do believe,” the man says. “Help me overcome my unbelief!” What does this mean? It seems that belief and unbelief are often kissing cousins. Thankfully, our beautiful Savior believes for us, even as we struggle to believe in him.

Jesus, heal our unbelief, too.