If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. – James 1:5-8 NKJV
This scripture, I believe, is one of the best scriptures in the bible to help us understand faith and prayer. It shows these key elements about prayer:
– God is a generous giver, ready to answer prayer
– Prayer must be offered in faith
– Doubt will keep us from receiving anything from God
– double-mindedness will cause us to be unstable in all our ways
I’ve come to the conclusion that God is good and ever ready to help us in any circumstance. I come to that conclusion by looking at the life of Jesus. Did Jesus ever refuse anyone that came to Him? Was there ever a sick person that He did not heal? Was there ever a dead person that He did not raise? Was there ever a demon that He would not cast out? The answer is no. But now, for some reason, many people believe that God doesn’t operate the same way now. Is God different? Did God change? Or is Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today, and forever?
I want you to notice something about the time of Jesus. Think about the time right before He came to this earth. There were sick people, demon possessed people, lost people, BUT, when He came, the people that he encountered were saved, delivered and healed. God was no different before Jesus came. But, for some reason, when Jesus came, things started happening.
The answer is simple. It’s because Jesus was operating as a man. Have you ever noticed that Jesus refers to Himself, most of the time, as the Son of man? There is a reason for that. Jesus didn’t come to show us how awesome He is because He is the Son of God, but he came to show us how awesome a son of man can be when he is operating in faith. He then commands us saying, “The works that I do, you shall do also.” The disciples and the members of the early church got this. They went out and healed the sick, cleansed the lepers, and raised the dead:
And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed. And there was great joy in that city. – Acts 8:6-8 NKJV
And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. – Acts 6:8 NKJV
But we haven’t got it yet. We have been powerless and faithless and weak. And it’s not God’s fault. It’s our fault. And if we don’t change, God will hold us accountable on the day of Judgment.
But some might say, “Why does God require faith? Why doesn’t He just do what He wants?” That’s a good question. I believe some of the answer is found in our passage in James:
But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. – James 1:6-8 NKJV
Notice what James says about a double-minded man: He is unstable in ALL his ways. It seems to me that this is one of the reasons God requires faith. If God allowed us to be double-minded in prayer He would be setting us up for instability in every area of our lives. That instability would destroy us. Therefore, even though God earnestly desires to answer our prayers, He will not do it if it is done in doubt. If He did, He would be feeding our instability. That instability would spread like a cancer. There would be confusion and faith would disappear. So, instead, God uses tough love. He requires faith that is like a rock. He does this because He wants us to be strong, unwavering people. He wants our lives to be like a solid rock of stability. He won’t accept anything less.