“Ask in Faith”
In order for a prayer to be effective it must be made with trust. The way we ask God for wisdom (or anything else) must coincide with the way God gives. He gives with a single mind, and we too must ask with a single mind. God gives without reproach to us, and we too must trust what he is doing in our lives and not go to him questioning our circumstances. Arguing with God, complaining about circumstances, or hesitancy to be open to God’s answer are human attitudes that prevent God from responding to our prayers. Here is the general principle behind what James is saying: God responds to us only when our lives reflect a basic consistency of single-mindedness toward God. It is not that we never question, or never doubt (Even king David in the Psalms at times questioned what God was doing.). It is that our lives are marked by a faith in God; faith that relies on God’s promises to work for our good; faith that is full and unquestioning dependence upon God. And this kind of faith is the only proper response to the goodness of God. The man who prays without this faith not only doubts what will happen, but also doubts the God who makes all things happen. A request that does not take God at His word doubts either his ability or his trustworthiness. The man who outwardly prays in doubt inwardly is not sure that God can do anything about his situation. His uttered request has not answered his inner indecision. And this inner indecision is an unwillingness to rely wholly on God.
This man’s request is not really even a request because he does not believe. He is like the wave of the sea tossed one way by the wind, and then back the other way by another wind. He is in constant agitation, and motion with no forward progress. James would have been familiar with such waves. He grew up near to the Sea of Galilee, and even though the Sea of Galilee is more like the size of a lake it had a reputation for severe storms (Matthew 8:23; 14:22). This is not like the tide rolling in. Imagine the waters in a storm being blown around by every different gust of wind. This is the person who doubts God. He does not pray with any consistency, or sincerity. One minute he wants wisdom from God, but the next minute he wants wisdom from the world. He is frantic, and prey to the shifting winds of fear and desire. This person’s joy is not anchored in the Lord, but rather dependent on his situation. If the sea is calm he is ok he has no reason to doubt God, but if a storm rolls in he becomes frantic doubting God and looking elsewhere for help. He has forgotten that the Lord he is praying to is the same God who calms the storms and walk on the water. Does your joy depend on your circumstance? Or is your joy found in Christ Jesus?