I Believe; Help Thou My Unbelief
In Mark 9:17-24 we read the story of the father who was likely at his wits’ end of what to do for his son. This humble father pleads his case to Jesus. Just before Jesus heals the boy, He makes a conditional request of the father, “If you can believe, all things are possible.” The father’s immediate response is, “Lord I believe. Help thou my unbelief.” In other words, I believe. I think I believe. I want to believe. What do I believe? I believe something; what do I not know yet that I need to believe? Will you teach me more? *
In our modern-day terminology, we might think of this as, the most courageous question of all: Yes, and?
This is an excellent the first guideline or “rule” when seeking to deepen your relationship with Heavenly Father and receive answers to prayer. Question what you think you know. Take the faith you have, bring it to God and ask Him, “What else would you have me know about this?”
Following this first guideline will open doors you may not have realized were closed, or even there.
As part of your gospel learning/strengthening experience, you may encounter principles you already know. Even if you think you know them, you should find that your understanding of those principles will deepen. This is an idea described in Isaiah 28:9-10:
(To) whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:
We have knowledge, we each have our respective foundations and baselines of what we know, but no matter where we are in life, or what we think we know, we can all add to what we already have.
“‘Now and again,’ as brother John Taylor says, until they receive a certain amount. Then they have to nourish and cherish what they receive, and make it their constant companion, encouraging every good thought, doctrine and principle and doing every good work they can perform, until by and bye the Lord is in them a well of water, springing up unto everlasting life” (in Journal of Discourses, 4:286–87).
To be added upon is to learn upwards, strengthening things we already know. It’s how you describe the feeling when you know something and even have a testimony of it, coupled with knowledge wrapped up in the testimony, and a testimony wrapped up in knowledge, until it spirals you upwards.
This process will be different than that of a cycle. In a cycle, you repeat the same thing, always returning to the starting point and rarely making any forward progress. However, in a spiral, you may find yourself revisiting something familiar, but each time you encounter it, it will be at a higher level, elevating you and your understanding, and bringing you a little closer to God.
As you spiral upward, you will be added upon. Your understanding will be increased, your testimony of God and your relationship with Him will be strengthened, your concept of faith will be increased in power, and you will gain an understanding of your own power to create.
*For an excellent talk that references this story, read Jeffrey R. Holland’s “Lord, I Believe,” from the April 2013 General Conference.