Mark 9:24 And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.
Read Mark 9:17-29 This story explains the importance of prayer and fasting in healing, and you come to understand that the father of this child had probably been to many other healers and doctors for his son over his son’s lifetime. He had probably been praying for a long time. So, as a consequence of his son not being healed for such a long time period the fathers belief in the possibility of the healing taking place diminished. Therefore when he goes to see Jesus he adds an additional prayer along with the prayer for healing…the request for help with his belief problems.
I don’t believe that the father was doubting God’s ability to heal, but that he was doubting whether the healing of his son would be God’s plan. Jesus’ disciples not being able to enact the healing was a problem for them, and Jesus evidenced frustration with the disciples inability to do the healing, but when they questioned him he gave them another lesson with patience. It is good to remember that God’s timetable for answers to prayer is not the same as ours.
Note: The NIV for some reason omits the words “and fasting”. I don’t have a problem with that omission because there has been a lot of textual study in ancient scriptures (ex. the Dead Sea Scrolls were not discovered until the 1940’s) that were not around at the time of King James which have not found the words “and fasting” in the scripture so the thought is that this addition was a later statement from the early church which put a lot of emphasis on fasting. Fasting is a physical act which helps a person to concentrate less on the body and more on God. Also there can be an occasion when you wish to use fasting to better express your sincerity when you are praying. However, a person cannot get more from God by fasting; that would be like trying to make a deal with God. As Jesus says to the father in this story, and we are told over and over throughout the Bible…it is the act of faith that matters to God. Of course, if God tells you that you should fast, then you should fast. Sometimes that is what God requires as an act of obedience to Him.
I am including a link that you can read more about this issue of the omitted verse if you like. You can read it and make your own decision. One thing about the NIV that should be remembered is that it is written for the ease of the reader’s understanding of God’s word; not extreme word for word textual accuracy. I really enjoy it for this ease of understanding as it is helpful in teaching others, but KJV is more textually accurate in it’s phrasing. I could give you other examples of these differences. Everyone has their own preferred version of the Bible. I believe that as long as you are studying the word of God avidly, God will guide you to the answers you need. That said, it is always a good idea if you are ever confused to go and look at another version or two or three. There are many on line sites which will give you about every version there is to read…side by side. A couple of my favorite sites are Bible Hub and Bible Gateway. As I come across differences I will try to make them clear.