man with Bible prayingFor the past few weeks, we’ve been talking about prayer. Much about prayer is often misunderstood and one of those issues has to do with faith and doubting.

James 1:5–8 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.”

That passage seems to sound like if we pray and ask God for something, but don’t have enough faith to believe we’ll get what we ask for, then we should not expect God to answer. That would be very formulaic, wouldn’t it? And if we’re honest, we all ask God for help not knowing what the outcome should look like. So, of course, we may waver in our faith whether this or that will come about. In fact, often we don’t even know how to pray regarding an issue.

We often think about faith as some intangible force that we must somehow muster or generate for our prayers to be answered. But this is not the meaning or intent of the James passage above.

The doubt or lack of faith that James is talking about is basically the kind of doubt that Herr Mittermeyer displayed in a previous devotional. He didn’t believe that it was in God’s character to even care about such petty issues in our lives. The doubt that James refers to is doubt in the goodness and love of our heavenly Father, or doubt in God’s ability to do what we ask. Such doubt is what makes a man “double-minded and unstable in all he does.”

When we come to the Lord with our requests, we don’t need to drum up faith. Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20)

Faith is simply taking God at His word. We speak of having “childlike faith” because it is simple, unfettered, and uncluttered. Faith must focus on God and who He is, not on us and what we’re able to muster.

The Psalmist displays this double-mindedness in Israel’s attitude in the wilderness. “They spoke against God; they said, ‘Can God really spread a table in the wilderness? True, He struck the rock, and water gushed out, streams flowed abundantly, but can He also give us bread? Can He supply meat for His people?’ When the Lord heard them, He was furious.” (Psalm 78:19–21)

When you pray, go to God believing in His love and infinite ability and simply ask.

Scripture Reading: Matthew 7:7–11

Personal Application

Rehearse in your mind the various character traits of God. Bring those traits to mind when you pray. Know that the Lord can do anything and that He delights in the prayers of His children.

Jim and Wendell signatures Jim Grassi, D. Min. and Wendell Morton

We cherish any verse in Scripture that reminds us to keep focused and intentional about evangelism and discipleship. “But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:5