Tuesday, March 12, 2019

James, Day 4: James 1:6-11 - What Does It Mean to Ask in Faith without Doubting?

What Does It Mean to Ask in Faith without Doubting?
James, Day 4

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.
 - James 1:6-11, ESV

When I was 9 or 10 years old, I married a little girl in my neighborhood. I don't even remember her name, but I have some vague memories of the wedding, attended by the neighborhood kids. I think somebody told me I was supposed to kiss the bride and I said, "Eww. Gross" or something like that.

Now, obviously, I didn't really get married as a child. We were just pretending. We had none of the required elements of a real wedding. It was no more real than the guns we used to play Cops and Robbers.

Some people's ideas of praying in faith have about as much to do with the Bible as my childhood wedding had to do with real marriage. So, what does it mean to ask God in faith with no doubting? It doesn't mean that, if you really want something (like a new Lexus or a trip to the Bahamas), you should just ask God for it and truly believe that you have it. That's unbiblical nonsense.

In the context of James 1, James is talking about praying for wisdom, which we saw last time is a deeper understanding of God's will as revealed in the Bible. So, we are to ask God for wisdom in faith without doubting. That means we are to trust God fully, relying on the goodness of His character and the truth of His word, not questioning His goodness or His word to us.

Further evidence that James is not talking here about praying for material possessions, or for any of our outward physical conditions, comes from looking at verses 9-11. Here James instructs those who live in poverty and humiliation to rejoice and to boast in God's love for them, knowing that all external manifestations of well being fade quickly and matter little. Likewise. the wealthy person should boast in his humiliation, that he is utterly poor and needy in the eyes of God in every way that truly counts for eternity, just like everyone else is. 

To pray in faith is to pray trusting in God and confessing God's truth to be the real truth. Part of this truth is that the state of our souls is of infinitely greater importance than the state of our bank accounts. To use "praying in faith" as a tool to try to get more of the passing pleasures and fading riches of the fallen world is to profoundly misunderstand the whole purpose of prayer and faith. We are to see God's way, as revealed in His word, to be the path of true and eternal riches. This is real faith, and this leads to strength and stability in all the changing circumstances of life.

1 comment:

  1. Well written, Jason. So many Christians misunderstand this concept in James. "Thy Will Be Done" means so much more than praying for "stuff", or what we think should be done. Praying you have a blessed day. How is your Dad getting along?