I do believe;
help me overcome my unbelief.
Sometimes prayer is saying “maybe” to God. It is saying “I want to believe you are a God of love, I want to believe you love me, I want to believe you are for me and not against me. Help me to believe these good things about you. Heal the fears I have about you.”
We may be guarded and hesitant. Our false and frightening idol gods may haunt us. But when our prayer is the prayer of maybe, we are turning from these idols to the God of love and grace, asking for help to believe in God’s goodness and mercy. We may believe intellectually that God is love, but find that we cannot trust that God actually loves us personally. We may want to trust God’s personal love for us but realize that we simply cannot.
When we say “maybe” to trusting God’s love we acknowledge both our belief and our unbelief. It takes courage to pray this honestly when our heart continues to fear that God might be harsh or abandoning or displeased with us.
But each time we say “maybe” to the God of love, and we experience moments of hope or peace or grace, our courage will grow and our faith will be strengthened.
What we can do is to begin to ask God to help us in our unbelief. We can begin to ask God to open our eyes and ears and heart to know the reality of God’s love for us. And then we can listen and watch for God’s responses.
These responses from God may come to us in something we read in a book or in a Scripture passage, or in the loving words from a friend. Sometimes the responses we receive from God might be images that came to us in prayer or in the still small voice of the Spirit.
God is eager to “help our unbelief.” God will not respond with shame or impatience when we struggle to trust. Instead, God will always respond to our “maybes” with grace and help. And out of these encounters with God’s patience and kindness toward us our trust will slowly grow stronger and deeper.
and yet I don’t believe.
I need your help
with my unbelief.
All I am able to do today is to say “maybe”.
Maybe I can trust your love.
Open my eyes, open my heart
to know your love.
Accept my prayer of maybe.
It is all I have to offer right now.
Sit quietly and ask God to show you whatever doubt and fear you experience about God’s love. Ask God to help you overcome your unbelief. Offer your prayer of maybe to God.
from An Enduring Embrace: Experiencing the Love at the Heart of Prayer,
by Juanita Ryan, 2012