The Bible says a hardened heart, is an unbelieving one. Today’s post is a discussion on how we can support and help ourselves with unbelief.
God wants us to have a childlike faith, but through the years we become hardened to the truth of God’s Word, sometimes unconsciously.
We pray and claim to believe Him for certain things to come to pass, but as the months turn to years, the faith we once had can dwindle.
I’m sure you’ve heard the analogy of the frog in boiling water. Put a frog in a pan, gradually increase the heat and the frog boils to death. But, put the frog in boiling water to begin with, and the frog jumps out of the pan.
I think unbelief in God’s promises can be a bit like that, especially in regard to healing.
We get used to not receiving which can numb our expectations and belief.
It’s also easy to believe God for healing when you know He can use doctors to help. Or if you have a condition where doctors say you’ll no doubt recover with time.
But if you are living with a condition in your body that doctors cannot treat and it’s now chronic, that’s more challenging.
It is our natural senses that cause our unbelief.
We’ve prayed for healing many times yet we feel, see and hear the evidence of sickness despite this.
HELP MY UNBELIEF
Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” Mark 9:24
This verse is taken from a passage where a father brought his son to the disciples for healing and they were unable to ‘cast out the spirit’.
The father says something really interesting. He says he believes, yet he asks Jesus to ‘help my unbelief’. (Sounds like an oxymoron.)
How can he believe and unbelieve at the same time?
I’m sure those of us with chronic conditions can relate to this. I don’t know how old the boy is, but he has been this way since childhood; it sounds like many years.
We can imagine the desperation and the disappointment.
Andrew Wommack explains this passage in that one can believe and have doubts.
God gives you and me a measure of faith. (Romans 12:3). So if God has given us faith, it is therefore not possible that we don’t have faith.
In fact, we have the supernatural and perfect faith of God.
We only need ‘faith the size of a mustard seed’. (Matt 17:20). So we’re not saying we don’t have faith or that we need more faith.
If anyone tells you, you don’t have faith or you’re not healed because of a lack of faith, know this isn’t accurate.
We need to eliminate the unbelief which is countering our faith.
Jesus was astonished at the unbelief of those in His home town, Nazareth. “And He marveled because of their unbelief” Mark 6:6
I certainly don’t want God to be astonished at my unbelief!
So what is unbelief? I would say, it’s synonymous with doubt. (as opposed to lack of faith).
HOW TO HELP MY UNBELIEF
Fixing our eyes on Jesus is of course the answer on one level.
In my experience though, this is a journey and there are things we can put in place that will help us increase our ability to keep our eyes fixed upon Him.
“Unbelief comes by hearing anything contrary to the Word of God”. Andrew Wommack.
The Bible says a hardened heart, is an unbelieving one. So the following suggestions are how I am trying to overcome unbelief in my own life. I hope they help.
1. RECEIVE THE LOVE OF GOD
If someone is disobedient, I question if they ever knew the love of God. I completely understand this, it doesn’t land in your lap and the Bible says ‘The goodness of God leads you to repentance’. Rom 2 :4
When you receive the love of God, you will in turn love him as well. You don’t want to grieve him with a lack of honour or disobedience.
It is possible to be a born-again Christian and just not know the love of God. The first step for anyone who wants to help his unbelief is to honestly evaluate whether he knows God’s love in his heart.
Pharaoh certainly didn’t know that God was a good loving God. He saw Him as the enemy. It is love that causes us to soften our hearts, have compassion for those who need it, and repent for ungodliness.
We run to Him and not away from Him.
If you’re not engaging much with God, it could be an indication that you don’t know how much He loves you. Perhaps you think you’re striving or going to church out of habit or duty.
2. INVITE JESUS IN
Oftentimes, we want God to take all our difficulties away, and sometimes He asks us to ‘cast all our anxiety on Him’. 1 Pet 5:7
Other times, we need to invite Him to the situation before He delivers us from it.
I don’t know about you, but when I invite God in, I sense a peace in the situation.
The boy’s father in Mark 9 says to Jesus “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” Mark 9:24
He recognised that he needed Jesus to help him.
I feel as though the father had an understanding that he needed to be free from doubts, but knew his natural senses were stronger than his faith.
I’m sure he’d watched his son foam at the mouth and convulse numerous times. How upsetting for them both.
It’s therefore not surprising that he had unbelief, especially when the disciples were unable to cast out the demon.
He positioned and humbled himself to receive help from Jesus.
Remember Jesus is a gentleman, he won’t assume that you want Him to enter your situation.
And he wants us to recognise that we cannot do anything without Him. “for without Me you can do nothing” John 15:5
3. REGULATE THE NERVOUS SYSTEM
It is hard to focus on anything if your nervous system is dysregulated. (This may not apply to everyone).
If you’re in a perpetual fight/flight state, dorsal shutdown, or even freeze, then your thoughts will follow suit.
Know this isn’t deliberate or your fault.
If you were running away from a tiger in the woods, then the fight-flight will naturally kick in. Of course, you’re not in actual danger but your nervous system doesn’t know this.
Our higher brain has caused us to not shake off (literally) the stress activation so it stays in our systems. That is why we get triggered so regularly.
This means that our thinking will follow from whichever state you’re in. In the Bible we’re asked to take thoughts captive.
This is almost impossible for people with a dysregulated nervous system.
Deliberately showing our nervous systems that we are indeed safe, no matter what stress we are encountering, moves us to a place of social connection (ventral).
Only when we’re in the ventral part of our nervous systems, can we start to challenge our thinking and cast down those imaginations.
It is possible to have a sympathetic activation in our system, but it not be about a worry for the future. ‘Anxiety’ is really a term we use to refer to sympathetic activation.
It’s a trauma response that stems from the past.
Most of these are no doubt from a lifetime of dysregulation. But they will still stop the Word from working, just like the ‘cares of this world’.
Fear is my biggest enemy so if I want to help my unbelief, I need to be in a place where any accumulation of fear is processed through my nervous system.
For other people, it might be victimhood, anger, or unforgiveness.
Our emotions are oftentimes historic reactions. This means that stress and trauma from our past superimpose themselves into the present moment when that moment mirrors something already experienced.
Building the capacity to be with emotions is helpful here. I like the work of Irene Lyon here.
In his book, ‘Healing Trauma’ Peter Levine has a series of short activities suitable for anyone who has stored trauma or an accumulation of stress in their bodies.
Having a relationship with our bodies is key when it comes to nervous system healing. Otherwise, our system gets ‘hijacked’ from the present moment.
If you can identify anything in your world that is hindering the Word of God from working? What steps can you put in place to help your unbelief?
What is occupying your mental space?
This sounds harsh but the Word of God says that a wicked man is a man whose thoughts are not on God.
The wicked in his proud countenance does not seek God; God is in none of his thoughts.
Ps 10: 4
I don’t know about you, but I certainly want more of my thought life to be on God and on His Word.
Can you imagine the difference in your healing journey, if nothing hindered the Word of God from working?
Setting the intention each day supports us in making right choices.
If you intend to hear God’s voice when you go to church or open your Bible you’re more likely to do so. Make a note each time; what is God saying to me?
For me, it helps me massively to set the intention to be aware of God’s presence as well. I’ve heard of some people setting the alarm on their phone every couple of hours.
Over time, developing that internal dialogue draws us closer.
Deliberately intending to spend time reading the Word and praying.
I think it helps to set the same time each day and build it into your routine. Meditating on the Word and not just quickly reading it for the sake of it.
Setting the intention to begin and end each day with God is helpful too.
Ideally, conversing or being aware of God’s presence all throughout the day would be the ideal goal but setting intentions might be more achievable.
The more this is a practice and a reality, the more we’re likely to take our thoughts captive when they’re not in alignment with the Word.
Having a prayer partner or someone to hold you accountable is beneficial for some, as well as carrying scripture cards.
I remember in the early days of my healing journey, keeping scripture cards next to my bed. When you’re very unwell, even picking up a Bible is a challenge.
5. CASTING DOWN IMAGINATIONS
Our thinking is often not a reflection of our true authenticity.
We are raised in a culture where we develop coping mechanisms to help us survive. We may adopt a ‘self-critical’ voice because unconsciously we think being hard on ourselves keeps us safe.
Some develop patterns of perfectionism, people-pleasing and catastrophising.
Our belief systems begin in childhood and usually occur as a result of parental messages and traumatic or stressful experiences.
Self-pity, negativity, grandiosity….. are default patterns that keep us stuck.
Not only do these hinder our authenticity, they feed dysregulation of the nervous system which keeps us in a perpetual state of survival.
We may pray or read Scriptures, but the above patterns of thinking can quickly dilute the Word we so carefully plant.
If we want God to help us with unbelief, then we need to commit ourselves to be more aware of our thinking and taking those hindering un-serving thoughts captive.
When the Parable of the Sower refers to the ‘cares of this world’, I’m pretty sure this is an umbrella term for ‘worldly’ thinking that counters the Bible.
Where has God loved you today?
Can we train ourselves to recognise, using our senses what God is doing each day in our lives?
I keep a diary of ‘3 Gifts’ – where I record how God has shown his love in different ways. ie, the sun shining on me, noticing the birds singing or perhaps a stranger smiling at me.
It helps build new neuro-pathways in our brains, which will attract more of the same. We really are surrounded by God’s love but we often miss it.
A trauma brain is primed to expect bad things. This is called predictive coding.
I see this in my own life and also in the lives of my clients so we work on seeing glimmers every day.
If you can see 1 glimmer, you can see 2.
Keep the journal next to your bed, so you don’t forget to do the activity. Eventually, you’ll be able to recognise those gifts from God the moment you experience them.
This reinforces God’s personal love for you and will help you if you want to overcome any unbelief in God’s promises.
You’ll see God’s blessing all around, no matter how small.
This builds your awareness and confidence that God is working in your life which will drown out the voice that says ‘God isn’t doing anything’.
6. GROW IN HUMILITY AND HONOUR
If only Pharaoh had humility. He would’ve set the Israelites free after the first plague! He was too far gone with his own power and his pride.
Someone has quoted “Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.”
Naaman nearly missed his miracle because of pride. See LESSONS FROM THE STORY OF NAAMAN. CHECK YOU EGO
James 4: 6 says “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” If you’re on a healing journey, you’ll want God to show you favour.
His favour can look like your support network, annointed teaching, healing testimonies, open doors as well as generally helping you manage your life each day.
We develop humility when we honour God. This will help you with your unbelief because you are less focused on yourself.
There are so many ways we worship God each day from serving others to tithing our money. Basically, we get our eyes off ourselves.
What do you put in place to help you honour God more?
7. MINDFULNESS / ORIENTING
If we can get to a place, where each day is a fresh start with no overlapping from the day before. Learning to be really present in each moment, in each day with no residue from the past.
To me, mindfulness is just being in the present moment – this includes what is going on in your body and your environment, using all your senses, without judgement.
We tend to spend a lot of our daily thinking time, dwelling on events of the past or fears of the future. We miss today and it impacts our time with God.
Whilst we don’t want our senses to dominate our faith, we can still use them as tools to ground us in the here and now.
Orienting is an activity where you set a time limit, and scan the environment as though you’d never seen it before. Can you allow your brain to follow your eyes? Where do they want to land?
Can you notice colours, shades, light and shadows, creases, textures, layers, gaps between objects…? Then add another dimension – what is your breathing doing? can you feel your feet on the ground, your body against the chair?
This is really being in the present moment and helps us ‘calm down’ a brain that is activated in survival. Think about it, if you were running away from a tiger, you would not be orienting, your eyes and brain would be intensely fixed on escape!
Orienting is counteracting this. I recommend titrating this activity. Begin with even 30 seconds; otherwise, your mind may wander off.
Think also of a baby who orients to her environment. She isn’t preoccupied thinking about yesterday or tomorrow, she’s in the present.
You see, if you have an overactive mind, then it is hard to focus on the Word without zoning out. Orienting trains your brain to focus more, it’s one of the ways I indirectly help my unbelief.
Being mindful of the present moment develops neuropathways, new wiring that appreciates the here and now.
This is really good for those of us who have had symptoms for many years.
You begin to ‘forget’ how long you’ve been ill, yesterday’s issues or tomorrow’s concerns.
8. LIMIT WORLDLINESS
I’m sure you know that we’re in the world, we’re not of the world. If you want to help your unbelief, then starving your life from unnecessary worldly factors is necessary.
What part of the world consumes you the most? Is it hanging out with the wrong people too much? Perhaps you’re working too much?
Does watching the news fill you will negativity and fear? (Apparently, Smith Wigglesworth wouldn’t allow a newspaper into his home.)
Are you watching things on the TV that promote bad language, violence etc?
What about your job? Do you spend time listening to the gossip of your colleagues or conversations that you know are harmful?
The Parable of the Sower warns of the ‘cares of this world’ that choke the Word. I think this also refers to any kind of worldly thinking or behaviour.
Abraham had faith yet wasn’t preoccupied with worldly matters as opposed to Lot, who chose to live in Sodom and Gomorrah.
9. OUTCOME INDEPENDENCE
When we’re not dependent on the results, we’re less likely to experience disappointment which breeds hopelessness.
We keep on praying and believing despite results.
I remember when I first started this journey, I mentally understood that God the healer comes first, and then healing is secondary. I always knew this was right.
Yet deep down, I was so desperate for healing, whilst I tried and wanted to put God Himself first, I knew deep down that life and healing were more of a priority.
It was as though I just couldn’t help it.
If this is you, please don’t be condemned. We are all in different places and when I started this journey, I didn’t know God very well.
I truly believe and have experienced that if we keep on going, then despite the results, God will cause us to, at some point, see and want Him first.
This is heart transformation that God does by His Spirit. We can’t manufacture this, in my opinion.
This also counteracts our sense of urgency.
If we pin our hopes and dreams on the outcome, then we will be disappointed if we don’t receive the healing in our chosen time frame.
Disappointment is painful and hinders our faith because our unbelief and lack of hope increase.
10. PRAYER AND FASTING
I save this to last for a reason. The above suggestions are the personal tools that help me as I seek to eliminate doubts.
When we read the NKJV, there is an additional verse added to the passage where Jesus heals the boy foaming at the mouth.
The disciples ask Jesus why they couldn’t cast out the demon, to which Jesus replies “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.” Mark 9:29
(‘This kind’ refers to doubt and unbelief, not the demon.)
When we pray and fast, we develop a greater hunger for God as we are focusing on Him, and not satisfying our flesh (ie feeling physically hungry).
This is the most powerful way for God to help us in our unbelief.
As a result, we hear God more clearly, are strengthened to overcome our challenges and are more likely to receive revelation.
We’re basically allowing our spirit to develop muscle so it becomes more dominant over our physical senses.
Can you imagine the difference if you recognised and eliminated any doubt and unbelief from your life?
It’s the doubt that causes us the issues. We all have the measure of faith that’s needed.
The same spirit that rose Jesus from the dead is on the inside of us, healing our bodies. Rom 8:11
Who knew doubt was so powerful?
Can you identify anything in your life that is creating unbelief? If so, I hope this article helps you in deciding your next step.
I know it’s not easy, so I pray you have a supportive network around you to pray and believe for your breakthrough.
Thank you for reading, I hope this helps on your journey. If so, take a read of