Excerpted from Oh God, Please: Help Me with my Doubt by Leighann McCoy © 2012. Published by Worthy Publishing, a division of Worthy Media, Inc., Brentwood, TN. www.worthypublishing.com. Used by permission. Tell us what you thought of this excerpt on Twitter: @WorthyPub

I spread out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. 
— PSALM 143:6

There is no shame in begging. If there were I think God would have edited David’s prayer. There is nothing gained by doubting, but there is no shame in begging.

David determined to turn to God for relief; he described how desperately he needed relief, then he begged God to give him relief quickly:

Answer me quickly, O LORD; my spirit fails.
Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit. Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you 
(Psalms 143:7a).

David didn’t want to wait forever for God to answer his prayer. He didn’t pray for perseverance or patience; he prayed for God to give him relief. Sometimes we cloak our lack of faith with a super-spiritual posture of praying for perseverance and patience when really the reason we pretend we are OK with God’s silence is because deep down inside we don’t really expect Him to answer.

I am afraid that I don’t have much patience with prayers that end with the phrase “Lord willing.” Of course we ought to pray for the Lord’s will to supersede our own when we come to Him with our requests. I’ve written much on the necessity of surrender in this mysterious partnership we have with God that we call prayer. Often, however, people insert the phrase “Lord willing” to give God an “out.” Just in case He’s not willing—or just in case absolutely nothing happens in response to their prayers. I am frustrated with the phrase because it might often mean, “What difference does it make if I pray or not?”

This is not what David did. When David prayed, he remembered God’s activity in the past and begged Him to “do it again” in his present. In fact, he got quite specific in his request: “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love.” David cried out to God in his despair and begged Him to answer his prayer by the next day. I like that kind of praying!

Faith-building Prayer

The great thing about praying as David prayed is that your faith is bolstered. I imagine that if I could take a poll of every reader, most of you would agree that God is faithful. Most of you would also agree that His love is unfailing. But, like the man who brought his son to the disciples, we desperately need God to prove His faithfulness and His unfailing love in our lives right now. 

The story is found in Mark 9:14-27 A man brought his son to Jesus’ disciples because an evil spirit possessed the boy. Unfortunately Jesus’ disciples couldn’t drive the spirit out. Jesus was away at the time, and when He returned, a large crowd had gathered for a theological discussion.

Seeing the crowd, Jesus asked what they were arguing about. The father told him how awful life was for his boy and how Jesus’ disciples failed to help. Jesus rebuked His disciples for their lack of faith then focused His attention on the boy. As the evil spirit acted out, the boy’s father prayed, “If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us” (Mark 9:22b).

Jesus heard the father’s desperate plea and picked up on one tiny, two-letter word: if. “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes” (v. Mark 9:23).

And then the father responded with one of the most honest prayers I’ve ever heard: “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (v. Mark 9:24).

How many of us, if we were really honest, pray as this dad did. “I do, believe, Lord, but please help me with my doubt.” My favorite part of this story is the next part. Jesus helped this dad with his doubt by answering his prayer. I love that!!

Just like the father who brought his son to Jesus, we also really know that God hears our prayers, is intimately acquainted with our grief, and that He has the power to solve our problems when He shouts answers to our heart cries.

I knew God was faithful when the nurse at Dr. Daniel’s office (my infertility specialist) read the results of my pregnancy test and said, “Leighann, you are pregnant!” I experience God’s unfailing love every time my precious granddaughter lays her head on my shoulder and smiles up at me, and I wonder why I ever begged Him to not let her be.

It’s one thing to profess a distant belief in the faithfulness and love of a faraway God but quite another to experience His faithfulness and love as it intersects your desperate heart cry. It is quite all right to beg God to answer your prayers quickly. Begging is OK.

What might happen if you asked God to answer your prayer by tomorrow morning?

How might you have felt had you been one of Jesus’ disciples the day that father brought his son for help

How might God help you with your doubt today?

Pray: Oh Jesus, I do believe! Help me with my unbelief! I have this need [tell Him all about it], and I desperately need You to help me. 

Leighann McCoy is the prayer and women’s minister at Thompson Station Church in Thompson Station, TN, where her husband Tom is the senior pastor. Her books include Spiritual Warfare for Women, Women Overcoming Fear, and Meet Me at the Manger and I’ll lead You to the Cross. Leighann lives in Franklin, TN, and is the mother of two daughters, one son, and a son-in-law: Mikel (Austin), Kaleigh, and T.J. Her favorite role is that of Nana to her granddaughter, Misty.

Publication date: April 5, 2013