Do I believe Jesus can rescue my children? Do I trust him to work redemptively in their hearts? I want to.

How Parenting Exposes Our Need for Faith

Whether we’re making meals, changing diapers, or shuttling kids to baseball practice, parents are doers. Always in protective mode, we apply sunscreen and Band-Aids as needed, and when we hit a wall with a need we can’t meet ourselves, we consult with the experts.

Long before parents could ransack Google or WebMD for medical advice, the distraught dad of Mark 9 wore his son’s need day and night–until the day he carried it in hope to Jesus. With disappointment written plainly on his face, he stepped out of the crowd and met Jesus’s level gaze. One arm protectively encircled his son’s shoulders, but any family resemblance was obscured by the son’s disfiguring burn scars, patchy hair, and missing eyebrows. Love and anguish constricted the man’s voice as he explained his dilemma to Jesus:

“I went to your disciples, but they couldn’t help. A demon has stolen my son’s voice, and he throws the boy to the ground, into the water and into the fire. Please. If you can help us…”  (Mark 9:17-18, 22)

Before he could finish the story and fully convey his frustration and need, his boy hit the ground right there before Jesus’s compassionate eyes.

Mark alone of the four Gospel-writers records the father’s anxious response to Jesus’s certainty that “all things are possible”:  “I believe!” he says. “Help my unbelief!”  With an eye to portraying Christ’s humanity and emotional responses, Mark departed from his usual spare, just-the-facts-ma’am narrative style to document a father’s expression of faith diluted by doubt but emboldened by desperation. In his outburst, we hear the lingering horror of near drownings, the blurted exhaustion of continual vigilance.

Parenting does that. Like nothing else in my following life, mothering has taken me to the edge of what I know for sure about God and how to follow him well. Parenting has continually exposed my need for a stronger faith.


That’s why the story of the Mark 9 dad stopped me in my tracks during this year’s read through the Gospels. Desiring God is graciously sharing my rendering of this story and its application to our own desperate parenting moments. It would be a gift if you joined me over there today…

Grateful for you,

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36 thoughts on “How Parenting Exposes Our Need for Faith”

  1. Oh, how wise this parenting advice is, Michele. All too often we set ourselves up to be god to our children – thinking we can shape them through our wisdom. To root them in the gospel message is the ultimate goal of raising children to give them not only a life but life eternal. Is it time to cast out some demons?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Even as a parent of children well into their 30’s 40’s and 50’s, the parenting prayer never stops. For their safety now that they’re no longer under my wing, out in this world, and as parents of their own children. God’s intercession is always a need. Explained very well this morning Michele, and a great reminder of his power.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. So very true. Your child’s pain, suffering or danger is more visible to a parent than their own. My eldest son got into drugs when he was in his late teens and he ended up in prison twice before he came to his senses. Nothing taught me more about prayer than the reality of the situation he was in. Nearly 800 miles from home in the middle of an institution with some of the most horrific people and potential dangers; I learned to pray and stand in the gap. God sent stronger, more on fire Christian men, who found themselves in the same place as my son, to take him under their wings and he grew spiritually more in that horrible place than in any other he was ever in. Plus they protected from the evil that lurked there. Every night, I prayed and all through each day until he came home. It’s been more than 20 years now and I am so grateful that God hears and answers prayer. Truly the heart of a parent reflects the Father’s heart toward us.

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    1. What a breath taking story, Michelle. I’m speechless. God was so faithful to empower you for that season of prayer, and his mercy is so evident in every word of this story. Thank you so much for bringing it here.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Such a good and wise article, Michele. I will be sharing it. I so agree, nothing drove me to pray more than parenting … except maybe, grandparenting. Now I pray for my granddaughters and their parents and I know God will continue to help me as I know He is faithful.

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  5. It’s funny how parenting cycles back on us in a gentler form when we become grandparents. The constant stress of being responsible for little ones is not ever-present as when we are parents. Grandparenting is like just distilling the best part of parenting.

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  6. Michele,
    What a terrific post with so many nuggets of truth. I read through it twice. No other job will expose our desperate need for faith and need to go onto our knees in prayer, than parenting. I like how you describe our role as ambassadors. We are not the answer to their problems, but we are to point the way to the One who is. Prayer…perhaps being an intercessor on my children’s behalf has stood out as my key role – especially as they have grown into young adults. Also, knowing when we need to step out of the way and let God and the Holy Spirit do the work in their hearts, is key. As always, love the way you weave words of wisdom together!
    Bev xx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree heartily that this ambassadorial role becomes even more important (and maybe trickier?) as our kids become adults. We want to show the way to Jesus so he can be the one who guides them now that it’s no longer our duty.


  7. Michele, this was great. I love the way you made me think deeper on the Mark 9 father. I think like you, I have just read the passage and went on. Thank you so much for opening my eyes.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I was so grateful for this insight as well. We tend to forget that biblical characters were real people with the same kinds of hope and disappointment we would feel in a given situation.


  8. I’m not a parent but when I worked with infants as a daycare provider I would see how many of them struggled with the burden of ‘what might go wrong’ in every scenario. Sometimes you just have to give it up to faith! #GlobalBlogging

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