Overcoming Unbelief

By Ryan Dawson

We all struggle with doubt at different times.  Last Sunday we looked at Overcoming Unbelief and the story of the father who cried out to Jesus: “I believe but help me overcome my unbelief.”  (Mark 9:23-24).  In seasons of doubt and unbelief, prayer becomes even more important, but sometimes it is hard to know what or how to pray.  We can even feel shame in coming to God with our doubts, especially if we have battled the same ones for years.  

I have greatly appreciated Douglas McKelvey’s devotional Every Moment Holy Volumes I & II because his prayers have given voice to the thoughts and intensions of my heart.  Below I have included McKelvey’s “Liturgy for Nights & Days of Doubts”, and I think it will resonate with you as you look to Jesus to help you overcome your unbelief.  

Take a quiet moment to meet with God and pray this prayer.  If this blesses you consider getting a copy of Every Moment Holy to enhance your time with God.  

Blessings, Ryan

Liturgy for Nights & Days of Doubts
I would that my heart was ever strong, O Lord, 

my faith always firm and unwavering,
my thoughts unclouded,
my devotion sincere,
my vision clear.

I would that I dwelt always in that state 

wherein my belief, my hope, my confidence, 
were rooted and certain.

I would that I could remain in those seasons 

when assailing storms seem only
to make faith stronger, proving your presence, 

your providence.

But it is not always so,
these are those other moments, 

as now,

When I cannot sense you near,
cannot hear you, see you, touch you—
times when fear or depression or frustration 

and I find no help or consolation,
when the seawalls of my faith crumble
and give way to inrushing tides of doubt.

Have I believed in vain?
Are your words true?
They seem so distant to me now.
Is your presence real?
I cannot feel it.
Do you love me?
Or are you indifferent to my grief?
Under weight of such darkness,
how can I remember the sunlight of your love 

as anything more than a child’s dream? 
Under weight of such doubt,
how can I still proclaim to my own heart 

with certainty that you are real?

And so, Jesus, I do now the only thing 

I know to do. 
Here I drag my heavy heart again
into this cleared and desolate space,
to see if you will meet me in my place of doubt.

Even as you mercifully met your servant 

Thomas in his uncertainty, even as you once 
acted in compassionate response
to a fearful father who desperately pleaded:

I believe, Lord. Help me with my unbelief!

For where else but to you might I flee 

with my doubts? You alone have the 
words of eternal life.


This I know to be true, my Lord and my God: 

You are not in the least angered
by my doubts and my questions,
for they have oftened been the very things 

that lead me to press closer in to you, 
seeking the comfort of your presence, 
seeking to understand the roots 
of my own confusion.
So also use these present doubts 

for your purposes, O Lord.
I offer them to you.

Even as the patriarch Job
made of his pain and confusion a petition;
even as the psalmist again and again
carried their cries, their questions, their laments 

to you; so would I be driven by my doubts
to despair of my own strength and knowledge 

and righteousness and control,
and instead to seek your face,
knowing that when I plead for proof,
what I most need is your presence.

In your presence I can offer my questions,
knowing you are never 

threatened by my uncertainties. 
They do not change your truth.
My doubts cannot unseat your promises.
You are a rock, O Christ,
and your truth is a bulwark
that I might dash myself against,
until my strength is spent
and I collapse at last in despair,
only then to feel the tenderness of your embrace
as you stoop to gather me to yourself,
drawing me to your breast
and cradling me there,
where I find I am held again by a love
that even my doubts
cannot undo.

O Lord, how many times have you graciously 

led me through doubt into a deeper faith? 
Do so again, my Lord and my God!
Even now. Do so again!

You alone are strong enough 

to carry the weight of my troubled thoughts,
even as you alone are strong enough to bear 

the burden of my sin and my guilt and my 
shame, my wounds and my brokenness.

O Christ, let my doubts never compel me to 

hide my heart from you. Let them rather arise as 
questions to begin holy conversations.
Invert these doubts, turning them to invitations 

to be present, to be honest, to seek you, to cry 
out to you, to bring my heart fully into the 
struggle rather than to seek to numb it.

Let my doubts become invitations to wrestle 

with you through such dark nights of the soul— 
as Jacob wrestled with the Angel–until the day 
breaks anew and I am fresh wounded by your 
love and resting in the blessing of peace again in 
your presence.

Now O Lord may the end result of my doubt 

be a more precious and hard-wrung faith, 
resilient as the Methuselah tree,
and a hope more present and evergreen, 

and a more tender and active mercy 
extended to other in their own seasons 
of doubting.

So help me, my Lord and my God.
I have no consolation but you.
Meet me now in this eclipse-shadow
of my doubt. Lead me again into your light.