Have you ever had to use something even though it was not working properly?

Soon after getting married, our car began having issues. The alternator fuse was damaged and the battery did not always charge properly.

So although the car looked fine on the outside, and worked most of the time, it would stall in the most inconvenient times and dangerous places. I had several close calls in life trying to push through and drive this car.

Sometimes, like this car, our faith doesn’t work like it should. We may look fine on the outside, but our lives are not producing the results that the Bible tells us real faith has.

You have experienced the Spirit He gave you in powerful ways. Miracle after miracle has occurred right before your eyes in this community, so tell me: did all this happen because you have kept certain provisions of God’s law, or was it because you heard the gospel and accepted it by faith?

Galatians 3:5 Voice

The Bible teaches that it is because of our acceptance of the gospel by faith that produces miracles in our life. If we are not seeing these miracles we have to look at the quality of our faith and ask the question, do I have weak faith?

When we get our faith working, we will see God’s miracles.

We are going to look at a passage where Jesus teaches people with faith that was not working how to have a faith that does work.

Failed faith: when we try but don’t succeed

A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. [18] Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.

Mark 9:17-18 NIV

Jesus’ disciples wanted to change people’s lives just like Jesus did. Perhaps they saw Jesus healing so many, making it look easy.

One thing we can take away from the disciples, is that they believed that they “should” have been able to change other people’s lives based on their faith or relationship with Jesus and they did try to do so.

However, they ran into a challenge that they could not overcome. They tried to heal this man’s son and they failed. Their faith failed to move the evil spirit from the young man’s life.

Have you ever had an expectation put on you that you just couldn’t come through on? Maybe you expected yourself to be able to do something, only to find that you pulled up short, or others had hoped you would come through, only to disappoint.

One often unrealized consequence for those of us who struggle with a failed faith is that it affects those around us.

Does Your Faith Work?

I always appreciate having examples in the Bible of people who are not perfect and who have obvious areas they need to grow. I have had various times in my life where I had hoped God would change something or where I even tried to help someone and felt powerless to do it.

You are not alone! We all need our faith to grow and work.

We will learn later in this passage how Jesus taught them to change their faith going forward.

One often unrealized consequence for those of us who struggle with a failed faith is that it affects those around us. The man brought his son to Jesus’ disciples but their lack of faith didn’t help him. 

When we, who are supposedly believing, faithful people, can’t help someone, it can make those who come to God for help lose faith in the power of God. That’s one of the reasons it’s important to identify the condition of your faith and make sure it’s working like God intends.

Reflection questions

  • Have you experienced a time in your life where your faith failed? 
  • How did you respond to that experience in your life? Did you quit trying or learn from it?

Inadequate faith: when we struggle to believe

“You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.” [20] So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.

[21] Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” “From childhood,” he answered. [22] “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” [23] “ ‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”

[24] Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!

Mark 9:19-24 NIV

The dad wanted to believe. He must have heard Jesus was healing people and showed up to see if it could happen for his son. He had enough faith to get his son to Jesus, but he didn’t quite believe in the impossible.

Jesus used this as an opportunity to help the dad not only with his son but also to grow his faith. The dad needed to overcome his unbelief. We do not know where his unbelief came from or why he held onto it.

What we do know is that Jesus noticed and challenged his inadequate faith. If this man wanted to see the impossible happen and his son healed, he needed to change his faith.

Our unbelief can change quickly with a simple decision. Decide to believe.

Does Your Faith Work?

And we also see that this father was immediately willing to change how he needed to. He did not blame the circumstances of his life or how long he may have experienced challenges with his son. He acknowledged his unbelief, asked for Jesus’ help to overcome it, and decided to believe all in one sentence.

Our unbelief can change quickly with a simple decision. Decide to believe. Pray to God and ask Him to help you overcome any unbelief that is lurking in your heart.

Reflection questions

  • What areas would you love to see miracles happen in your life?
  • How would you rate the level of faith you have about God working in those areas?
  • What decisions can you make to “overcome your unbelief”?

Powerful faith: when we pray and see God move

When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” [26] The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.”

[27] But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up. [28] After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” [29] He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.”

Mark 9:25-29 NIV

As he usually did, Jesus showed the people around him and us how real faith works! He commanded the spirit out of the boy and completely changed this boy’s life. Jesus was personal and powerful.

I appreciate the disciples’ attitude after seeing Jesus make this happen after “they could not.” They did not get discouraged or angry, they were humble and asked him what they needed to do.

Jesus simply says prayer is the essential piece that they were missing. I do not know if this means they did not pray in the moment or that they were not prayerful enough as people.

No matter where you are at as you read this, you can decide now how to change.

Does Your Faith Work?

We do not see Jesus pray in this passage so I lean toward the belief that he is talking about the amount of prayerfulness they have as people. The only way we are going to have a powerful faith like Jesus is if we have a prayer life that is ready for any challenge or need that comes our way in the moment.

How can we apply these examples and change our faith to be powerful?

No matter where you are at as you read this, you can decide now how to change. Both the disciples and the dad in this story lacked the faith necessary to make miracles happen, but showed humility to change, learned and changed quickly.

So what can you do today? Here are three simple decisions to go from a failed or inadequate faith to a powerful faith.

  1. Be Ready to Learn – Choose to ask God what is missing in your faith to see miracles in your life, just as the disciples did.
  2. Be Ready to Change – Choose to change your faith immediately once you identify an area of your life you are unbelieving, just as the dad did.
  3. Be Ready to Pray – Choose to pray every day and be ready to pray when you face a situation you are challenged by or you do not know what to do.

Reflection questions

  • Are you trying to learn from God what is missing in your faith so you can see miracles in your life?
  • Are you ready to change your faith immediately when you see unbelief?
  • How would you describe your prayer life?

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This article was created by a member of the Deep Spirituality editorial team.

Deep Spirituality logo

This article was created by a member of the Deep Spirituality editorial team.

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