Community Groups: May 30-June 5

Community Group Outline

  • Welcome and Greeting // (10 Minutes)
  • Catch Up – Highs and Lows, Peaks and Pits, or Icebreaker // (30 Minutes)
  • Share Your Story: Check with your facilitator about scheduling  // (20 Minutes)
  • Discuss // (30 Minutes)

1. Grace: all belong here—who should you invite in? Ask your group to join you in prayer!

2. Master Teacher: Do you accept the authority of Jesus over all things? Where do you struggle to submit to Jesus as the ultimate authority?

3. Suffering: have you asked the Lord how your suffering can mature you? What do you want God to do in your current suffering?

4. Holy Spirit: have you asked for the filling of the Holy Spirit? Consider asking your group to pray for you!

  • Pray For One Another – as a GROUP or in TRIADS // (30 Minutes)

Day ONE: May 30-June 6

Spiritual Discipline // INTERCESSION


By Chris Bowlby

This last Sunday was Pastor Isaac and Donia Hovets last Sunday before Sabbatical. We received an incredible blessing from Pastor Isaac; we are living into our calling as a Four Gospel Church. Part of our calling is to be people that are expectant for God to move. We live in a world that tries to shrink our imagination. We are told, “you can’t do anything about your world”, or “What you see is all you can dream for.” While our world shrinks our imagination, the Gospel FUELS our imagination. We have hope that a supernatural God will intervene on behalf of his Kingdom. Scripture gives us not just permission, but an imperative to partner with God through prayer. This summer we will have the opportunity to have our imagination sparked by slowly making our way through the miracles of Jesus. 

Our. Prayers. Matter. 

Today, take some time to pray for not just our community of faith, New Hope, but also for the Hovet’s as they move into their sabbatical. God has good in store for us all as we are submitted to Him through prayer!

Prayer for the Hovets:

  • Pray that God would refresh Pastor Isaac and Donia
  • Pray that God would give fresh vision, calling, and revelation personally. 
  • Pray that God would strengthen their family and fill them up with overwhelming love for one another. 
  • Pray that any plans of the Enemy to distract or steal their rest this summer would be thwarted. 

Prayer for New Hope:

  • Pray that God would expand our imagination for what is possible through the miracles of Jesus. 
  • Pray that we would be unified, submitted to one another as the Body of Christ
  • Pray that we would be quick to jump in and support and care for OUR Church. 
  • Pray that God would fill our Pastoral and Church Staff with His Spirit, empowering us to serve him faithfully.

Day TWO: May 30-June 5

Spiritual Focus // SPIRITUAL GIFTS


By Trish Bliss

The #1 identifier of a Christian is LOVE. Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)

So what does love have to do with spiritual gifts? EVERYTHING! Yes, that was me yelling in text about spiritual gifts… In every passage where spiritual gifts are listed, there’s also an exhortation to love. We are called to love and given unique, specific ways that each of us will excel in loving others. Spiritual gifts without love are bad news, loud and clanging and ugly, because they are for the benefit of the user not the receiver. Our motive for using our spiritual gifts can only, ever be love. 

I love to teach. Whether I’m teaching at church or at Chemeketa, or someone is asking my advice (that’s teaching, too) I like to ask the lord one question before I put my lesson or thought together or foot in my mouth, “what do you want to say to these people?”. Yeah, I can come up with some good lessons, and I have come up with some doozies, too. But, when I speak knowing God has given me his words to say, it’s always really, really good stuff! 

I was on the phone with a friend who’s child had gotten into some household products and had to be taken to the hospital. She felt awful and was telling me all about how she was baby proofing her whole house. Instead of giving her all my 25 years of mothering tips, I asked God what he wanted her to know. Then, I got to tell her what a loving mother she is, point out her strengths and spiritual gifts. That was what she needed to hear, not a mouth full of my experiential knowledge. Here are the 3 passages where we see lists of spiritual gifts: (Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, 1 Peter 4). Read through them and think about which areas you seem to be gifted in, are good at or like doing. Ask God to look into your heart and sort out any motivation other than love. Then ask if there is a “check in” question you might ask Him to help you use your gifts to show His love.

Day THREE: May 30-June 5

Spiritual Discipline // CELEBRATION


By Andrea Larson

Summers generally bring with them a flurry of celebrations of all kinds – from backyard cookouts to weddings to Fourth of July fireworks shows. Our spirits yearn for these good times and for the long, warm days that summer typically brings. But this summer it will be decidedly different. Celebrating will most definitely be happening, but our get-togethers will feel even sweeter after nearly a year and a half of being separated to varying degrees by the pandemic. So, although we are not back to “normal” yet, the increased opportunities we have to gather safely are going to feel like heaven on earth!

Yesterday, we had a whole day with our good friends, Mike and Bobette, doing a backyard project and eating meals together. I literally felt refreshment wash over my soul to share life again in person and not over a Zoom meeting.  Finally…. it’s time to be merry! But… what about the other disciplines that we have been cultivating? To remind ourselves, this year we have been studying, discussing and practicing the disciplines of simplicity, fasting, silence, solitude, study, self-examination, prayer, gratitude, service, intercession, spiritual gifts, confession, and submission… alongside celebration. 

Richard J. Foster, the author of the excellent and useful book titled, Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth says this:

Celebration gives us strength to live in all the other disciplines. When faithfully pursued, the other Disciplines bring us deliverance from those things that have made our lives miserable for years which, in turn, evokes increased celebration. Thus, an unbroken circle of life and power is formed.”

Wow – that is profound. Continuing to follow the other spiritual disciplines, will actually give us MORE reasons to celebrate, instead of depriving us from celebration.

So as the summer and vacation days approach, keep in mind that it is not a good idea to abandon the other disciplines in favor of celebration alone.  Continue reading the Word, continue praying, continue gathering with our New Hope family. Have fun and remember that Jesus’ first miracle was performed at a party!

“Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals!”

Psalm 150: 1-6
APPLICATION:

1.    Read John 2: 1 -12. Why do you think Jesus performed his first miracle at a wedding party? What does it tell you about him?

2.   Think about the Richard J. Foster quote above. Think of a time when your practice of spiritual disciplines led you to a celebration at a later date. Perhaps spiritual fasting helped you break a food addiction that led to greater health. Perhaps you spent time in daily self-examination that led to confession and eventual restoration of relationship with someone important in your life. Perhaps you committed yourself to simplicity, which freed up time in your schedule to have more fun with your children.

3.   As we break from “official” meetings of community groups this summer, invite someone over for a meal or just to sit and talk. Invite a friend or neighbor to one (or all!) of our New Hope BBQs (or cookouts or grilling sessions as Pastor Chris reminded us!)

Day FOUR: May 30-June 5

Spiritual Discipline // CONFESSION


By James Gerber

This past Sunday Isaac walked us through four themes that emerge throughout the four gospels accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry. Today I would like to point our attention toward the theme that emerged from the gospel of Matthew.

In Matthew we see Jesus as a master teacher. In Matthew 5, 6, and 7, Jesus preaches what we call the “Sermon on the Mount.” A manifesto of what it means to truly be human. He instructs us on how we ought to live in order to flourish and paints a picture of what it looks like in his kingdom. As we read the sermon, we quickly see, as Isaac pointed out, how upside-down his kingdom is. 

Isaac had this to say on Sunday:

“We flourish despite mourning, when we are poor in spirit, when we hunger and thirst for God’s ways and when we are persecuted for the sake of Jesus. And then we learn that we are called to bless those who persecute us and to love our enemies. We return insults with blessings. We don’t just refrain from murder, but anger too. We don’t commit adultery, but furthermore, we refrain from lustful thoughts. We honor marriage and even choose to not remarry after a divorce.”       

So much of what Jesus has to say is counter to our own instincts. But, the call of every follower of Jesus is to submit to our Rabbi and learn from him. (After all, disciple means learner). He invited us to lay down the heavy burden of having to live our lives the way we want, and to take on the easy yoke of following him and all of his ways. (See Matthew 11:28-30) 

At the close of his sermon on the mount teaching Jesus says this:

Matthew 7:24-27

24“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

This statement by Jesus creates a number of questions for the reader. 

Am I really putting Jesus’ teachings into practice, or am I living my own way? Is my life built on the firm foundation of Jesus? Are there any areas of my life that are built on sand? Am I wise or am I a fool? Do I REALLY trust Jesus and believe he knows what’s best for me?

Application:

  1. The practice of confession: Scan through (or read slowly if you have time) the sermon on the mount in Matthew 5, 6, & 7. As you come to a teaching of Jesus that is hard to accept, or you have been living contrary to, confess it to the Lord. Simply tell the Lord that you are having a hard time believing or living out what he has called you to. 
  2. Repent & ask for forgiveness: To repent is to change your mind and the direction you are going. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”  Take a moment to tell the Lord that you have sinned against him, that you have been wrong in what you have thought and what you have done. Tell him that you no longer want to be the lord of our own life, but you want him to be Lord. 
  3. Ask for help: “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” These were the words of a father who was desperate for Jesus to heal his son in Mark 9; and they seem like an appropriate prayer for us as we wrestle with entrusting Jesus with more of our lives.  Confess to the Lord again and pray that prayer over your areas of doubt. 

Day FIVE: May 30 -June 5

Spiritual Discipline // SUBMISSION


By Donia Hovet

For the past 15 months, we have been living out a season of profound submission. Churches shut down. Schools closed their doors. We were told to STAY HOME unless absolutely necessary. We stopped seeing friends and family and stayed six feet away. We donned masks and face shields. Pandemic life is different. Hard. Discombobulating.

Some have been on board from the beginning. Some have been convinced after having experienced COVID-19 or watched a loved one succumb unto death. Some have remained frustrated from the start and frustrated with government controls. 

Through it all, we have been asking ourselves: “What does it mean to follow the way of Jesus during a global pandemic?”

The answer has been more profoundly simple than we could ever have imagined: SUBMIT. Not to dullness, numbing, ignorance or control. But to the way of Jesus. 

Jesus submitted to a humiliating death on the cross. Jesus gave up his rights. Jesus lived his life CONSTANTLY misunderstood, CONSTANTLY questioned, CONSTANTLY accused. Yet he remained in the line of fire to show us what bringing the kingdom of God to earth looks like. He was the suffering servant so we might be redeemed and sanctified. 

For 15 months we have had the opportunity to GAIN. We gain by losing. We gain by giving. We gain by submitting. This past Sunday, Isaac reminded us that we have consistently CHOSEN the way of our suffering Lord by sacrificing our personal preferences. In doing so, we have waged war against the deeply embedded stronghold of personal freedom and rights for the sake of Jesus Christ and the witness of his beloved church. Is anything more worthy of our personal pain?

C.S. LEWIS said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

Over the course of the coming summer, we are going to have more opportunities to RISE ABOVE the constraints and conversations imposed upon us by this global pandemic. In order to do so, we must submit to our master Jesus who paved the way for us. In the midst of ever-changing regulations and requirements, let’s take comfort in knowing that Jesus Christ is the same: yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). 

Every day we have a choice. Let’s be those who choose the way of Jesus day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year, for the glory of God. 

APPLICATION: 

  • READ: Philippians 2-18, Romans 12:18, Matthew 16:24-27
  • Write down 5-10 observations about the heart of God when it comes to sacrificial service and suffering.
  • PRAY: 
    • Ask God to preserve unity in our church body through the coming ups and downs.
    • Ask the Holy Spirit to give you the ability to lay down your personal preferences for the sake of his kingdom and his glory.

Day ONE: May 23-29

Spiritual Focus // SPIRITUAL GIFTS


By Andrea Larson

A few years back our youngest son, an ardent lover of innovative technology and useful gizmos, gave us an Amazon Alexa device for Christmas. It looked interesting, but I was certainly a bit wary of it listening in to our conversations and was definitely reluctant to take the time to learn how to use it. So… it went into the closet for the better part of a year. When there was an actual lull in the action of our busy lives, my husband, Rob, finally took the time to get it set up in our kitchen.

We quickly discovered that Alexa was very responsive to our queries and would light up, ready to assist, even when it heard its name on a commercial in the other room! Wikipedia describes Alexa as a “virtual assistant” that is capable of “voice interaction, music playback, making to-do lists, setting alarms, streaming podcasts, playing audiobooks, and providing weather, traffic, sports, and other real-time information, such as news.” And that’s just the basic list. I had no idea what I had been missing!

In just a short while, I was using Alexa to set timers for cooking, to play my favorite Christian radio station and to pull up a playlist for “Italian dinner party” during my COVID date nights at home. I learned to turn Alexa’s receiver off when providing personal identification information  over the phone. Now, I find Alexa quite useful and a marvel of technology!

Just as we had reluctance to pull Alexa out of the closet to become useful, sometimes I have similarly kept my spiritual gifts “packed away in mothballs”, so to speak. I know I have them, but I make little use of them for long stretches of time. I’m not always sure how they all work. I often don’t stop long enough trying to solve a problem on my own to ask for help.

Take, for example, the gift of tongues that enables me to have a prayer language to connect more directly to the Father through the Holy Spirit. I received my “prayer language” many years ago while visiting with some Christian friends who were having a gathering of believers in their home. Since I didn’t grow up with the concept of “speaking in tongues”, I will freely admit to you that at first, it seemed pretty weird to me at best and kind of scary at worst. But the more I learned about it, the more I was assured that it was actually a wonderful gift from our very real and living assistant, the Holy Spirit. As the Holy Spirit will not force anyone to do anything against his or her own will, my prayer language came at a time when I asked for it in a quiet and peaceful way. I was a full participant in receiving the gift.

Since the beginning of 2021 (yet another seriously stressful year), I have been committed to spiritual disciplines with more determination than ever before. During the period of time when several members of our New Hope family were sick and hospitalized, I feared for their lives – I wanted to pray with great fervor, but was often at a loss for what more to say as the Lord held the lives of these dear ones in His hands. In my desperation, I began praying daily in my spiritual language. I was, quite frankly, overwhelmed and relied on the Holy Spirit to intercede.

“And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.” 

Romans 8: 26-27

I have felt “at the end of my rope” in prayer many times, anguishing over children, praying for healing and more. Those would be the times when I would “pull out” my prayer language gift. But a few months ago, I thought that it would be a good idea to pray in the spirit for 5 minutes every day, as a spiritual discipline. It was hard at first, but now I often go far over my time, as I entrust to the Lord the very, very many concerns of my heart. And we are seeing some amazing breakthroughs – answers are coming to prayers that have been ongoing for YEARS!

What about you? Doesn’t it sound amazing to have a way to pray when you are tired or disappointed or overwhelmed and don’t know what to say anymore? You can have this gift also. Pastor Isaac spoke about being Spirit filled on Sunday. Perhaps you have already asked and received or perhaps you are still waiting. I would like to share with you a few things that I learned on the way that may be helpful to you also:

1.   You have to use your voice.

  (BEST TIP that came from my husband)

Now, this sounds intuitive, but I actually thought the first time I asked for this gift that the Holy Spirit would “take over” speaking for me and sounds would just come out of my mouth. (No wonder I was hesitant! And of course, nothing happened.) You have complete volitional control. You have to open your mouth and start talking without directing specific thoughts/words. The best way I have found to describe it is to connect your heart to your mouth, bypassing your brain.

2.   You don’t have to speak in tongues. You get to. 

There is nothing that says that “speaking in tongues” makes you a superior Christian, just like there’s nothing that says learning to use Alexa makes me a technology whiz. It is just really, really helpful.  

3. No special knowledge is required. 

Whether you have committed your life to the Lord 5 minutes ago or 5 years ago, whether you have entire books of the Bible memorized or not a single verse, you are a candidate to receive this gift if you are a follower of Jesus. 

4.   If you’ve asked in faith to be filled with the Holy Spirit, then you have become Spirit filled.

When I first asked to be filled with the Holy Spirit, I did not receive a prayer language right away, but I definitely noticed a difference in my life. I had people tell me that my response to those inklings I got from the Holy Spirit were “answers to prayer”. I had many more “coincidences” happen, that I like to call “God-incidences”. The Lord was using me more than ever before. There is nothing more exciting than being part of God’s plan to renew the world!

“All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”  Acts 2:4

Day TWO: May 23-29

Spiritual Discipline // INTERCESSION


By James Gerber

If you were paying attention on Sunday morning, there was a theme that clearly emerged throughout Isaacs message.

God uses ordinary people, empowered by the Holy Spirit, to do Extraordinary things. 

Odds are, you’re probably not a pastor. And in fact, no surprise, most followers of Jesus are not pastors. We have a variety of vocations. Construction workers, lawyers, stay-at-home moms. Whatever your vocation, as a Jesus follower, we have in common the calling of being a witness to the world. To be those who share the good news of the gospel to a desperate world and to invite others to be in a discipleship relationship with Jesus. 

When I was about 20 years old, I was a part of a ministry internship at our church, Life Center. One late night a fellow intern and I were up late working in the office working on a project when we heard a woman screaming. She seemed desperate for help. We ran downstairs and outside as fast as we could to see what what was happening. We were in no way equipped for what we were about to stumble upon. We suddenly found ourselves in the middle of a fight between a man and his girlfriend. She was attempting do get away from him and it was evident that things had already gotten pretty physical. She had just gotten done pulling herself out of a bush that he had pushed her into. 

Of course, out instinct was to help and separate the two. I began to ask what was going on and told him to leave her alone. And within seconds he had a gun pointed straight at us. He said to us, “I’m gonna kill you guys, and after that I’m gonna kill myself!”

I immediately began to pray. Asking the Lord to protect us (I really didn’t feel like dying that night), and what I can only describe as a Holy Spirit inspired moment, I began (in my mind) to pray for him. Within a couple seconds, I had an overwhelming sense that I should ask Him what we could do for him. So after about a minute of trying to defuse the situation, we were able to calm him down enough that he would put his gun away. 

As I was prompted by the Holy Spirit to do, I asked what we could do for him. And to our surprise, he simply asked if we had cigarettes. Neither of us smoked, but my friend Jason, for some reason, offered him a ride to the store. So, we got in the car and drove this guy to the store. We bought him cigarettes and just talked with him, and listened as he told us a few stories about all that was going on in his life.  

We pulled the car over to drop him off, and with boldness Jason and I began to share the gospel and about all that Jesus had on offer. He accepted the invitation, repeated a prayer of repentance, and suddenly we found ourselves laying hands on a broken, weeping man who had just accepted Jesus as His Lord and savior. Minutes earlier a man who was covered in violence was covered in tears of repentance. It was beautiful. 

We were a couple of ordinary 20 year old kids. We were not highly skilled professional preachers, but we had been with Jesus, were filled with the Spirit, and in the moment we just did what the Lord asked us to do. 

I’m reminded of what was said about Peter and John in the bok of Acts:

Acts 4:13

13 The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus. 

Now, in no way am I suggesting that you go and try to put yourselves in the middle of a domestic violence situation in which someone has a gun. 

But, what I am suggesting is that in the midst of the circumstances that you find yourself in, the Spirit of God wants to embolden and empower you to be a witness of the message of the gospel. 

Application Questions:

  1. Pray and reflect. Who is in your life that doesn’t know Jesus yet?
  2. Make a list of those people.
  3. Pray. Ask the Lord to draw them in, that they might be saved. 
  4. Going through the list name by name, ask the Lord who He might want you to reach out to. See who he highlights to you. 
  5. Reach out. Send a text. Have coffee. Hang out and see what the Lord does. Ask the Spirit to empower you to share Jesus with them if He asks you to.

Day THREE: May 23-29

Spiritual Discipline // CELEBRATION


By Donia Hovet

My daughter Ava is going to turn 11 in just a few days. In our family, the birthday girl or boy gets to pick their favorite breakfast, dinner and birthday dessert. Each of my children has their “usual,” and all of them are different. We always end the birthday meal by giving words of affirmation to the person of honor-in other words. We celebrate the individual and everything God created them to be. 

This past Sunday we got to celebrate the individuals who completed our Doing What Jesus Did seminar by commissioning them to go forth and minister in the name of Jesus, empowered by the Holy Spirit. What a joy! While all have received the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Bible is clear: each person is uniquely gifted and will express those gifts as God has bestowed them. This type of celebration reminds us that we are each uniquely equipped by God to do, as Paul says, “the good things he planned for us long ago.” Amazing!

Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. 

Ephesians 4:1-9, 11-17

For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all.

However, he has given each one of us a special gift through the generosity of Christ. That is why the Scriptures say,

“When he ascended to the heights,

    he led a crowd of captives

    and gave gifts to his people.”

Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.

Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

Just as we celebrate the diversity of our family members, we get to celebrate diversity in the family of God. Celebrating the diverse giftings among the family of God is part of maturity. It is Christ who makes the whole body fit together perfectly as each member does their own special work.

APPLICATION:

  1. Do you need to celebrate YOU? Sometimes comparison or envy can steal the joy of what God has sovereignly placed inside us. Take some time to celebrate who God created YOU to be! It was no mistake! You are vital and necessary to the body of Christ. 
  2. Verse 3 says, “Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.” Celebration can be a key to unity. Celebrate those who have offended or frustrated you. Make a list of the good things they bring to the people around them. Pray for their blessing.
  3. Take some time to celebrate someone who has used their spiritual gifts in a way that has blessed your life or the lives of your family members. Write a thank you card or send a quick text letting them know.

Day FOUR: May 23-29

Spiritual Discipline // CONFESSION


By Chris Bowlby

One of my favorite passages in the Gospels is the story of a man who came to the disciples in desperation for his son to be healed. I have five daughters. My oldest was born at 27 weeks. With a LONG scary stay in the NICU I prayed some incredibly desperate prayers for God to heal her, to save her, to spare us from this moment. I can relate to this father; more than anything he wanted his son to be healed. And he wasn’t. 

Hang with me here. The story is going to get good; however, at this moment, he had traveled to the disciples and they couldn’t do it. LOTS of other people had been healed and delivered yet here is son was, still suffering, and nothing could be done. Have you ever gotten your hopes up only to be disappointed? Have you ever prayed bold prayers, begged God to intervene and were left with a letdown? This father had done EVERYTHING and was desperate for a miracle. 

When Jesus shows up the disciples are all arguing – disappointment almost always leads to blame. After a quick rebuke, they bring the boy to Jesus. 

20 So they brought the boy. But when the evil spirit saw Jesus, it threw the child into a violent convulsion, and he fell to the ground, writhing and foaming at the mouth. 

21 “How long has this been happening?” Jesus asked the boy’s father. 

He replied, “Since he was a little boy. 22 The spirit often throws him into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.” 

23 “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” 

24 The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

Mark 9:20–24 (NLT)

After a desperate plea from the father, Jesus responds with what he already knew to be true – anything is possible! This man traveled to find Jesus out of desperation. He likely heard of the great works of Jesus and the disciples. Of course Jesus could do this – but like you and I he had many disappointments, including the latest one from the disciples. He prays one of the most profound prayers in the Bible, what author and Pastor,  Dr. AJ Swaboda calls the “doubters prayer.” 

Lord I believe, help my unbelief. 

Jesus didn’t rebuke the father. He didn’t tell him it was his faith that held back the deliverance of his son. The more I follow Jesus, and the more that I am honest with myself I realize just how often I pray “the doubter’s prayer.” I have a measure of faith, but sometimes the past has a way of narrowing the possibility of what could be. The father’s request of Jesus, “help my unbelief” was a confession of doubt. When we confess our doubt God is not waiting to rebuke us; no, He meets us in our doubt. 

Is there something in your life you’ve been praying for that hasn’t happened? Was there a past experience of disappointment that narrows your view of what God could do in the future? Take some time today to confess your doubt. God is not offended by this type of prayer; God will not rebuke you for your honesty. He will meet you in the midst of your doubt. Spoiler alert, the man’s son was delivered from a demon possession and set free! I can’t guarantee a future miracle, but I do know the only unanswered prayer is the one that was never prayed. The Holy Spirit is powerful enough to both answer a prayer and comfort us in the disappointment of an unanswered prayer. Let your confession be the soil for fresh seeds of faith.