“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.”
Some forty years ago as a student in High School I learnt a lesson which it seems that I must constantly be relearning. This was that God chooses to work through the prayers of His people. I was privileged to be part of a Christian fellowship which seemed to be unusually attractive to those who were seeking to understand what the Christian faith was all about. There was really only one clear reason for this attractiveness. This was that every morning before classes began a group of students arrived early and spent about forty five minutes in prayer and Bible Study. I am not really certain that we really knew what we were doing but we had a firm belief in the effectiveness of prayer. We were also committed to implementing Biblical principles in our lives.
Years later while reading Iain Murray’s biography of Martyn Lloyd-Jones I was to discover that this had always been God’s plan for His people. Lloyd-Jones used to constantly remind the congregations that he served of the importance of committing everything they did to real believing prayer. Once when he had made the difficult decision to leave his ministry at a particular Church a member of his congregation was asked about his feelings about the decision. His answer was enlightening. He said that the decision was difficult for him personally but that he was convinced that the pastor had committed it to prayer just as he did all of his major endeavours. Prayer was at the heart of that great man’s ministry. In addition Lloyd-Jones frequently stressed that in the perplexities of life we must constantly go to God’s Word for wisdom. We must find out what the Lord says about every part of our lives.
This seems to be the message that James is teaching in the opening chapter of his book. Seeking the wisdom of God, as it is revealed by the Spirit of God through God’s Word is the pathway to discernment in the difficulties of life. We must ask God for this wisdom in believing prayer. We must however ask in faith, without doubting. James Adamson in his commentary on the book of James writes about this faith as a confidence in prayer with the following advice.
““Here and in the Synoptic Gospels it means primarily the simple act of coming to Jesus with some need in complete confidence that He can and will deal with it. It was this attitude of faith that seemed to release powers in Jesus that made all things possible. Often when Jesus had healed an ailing man or woman, His explanation of the healing was: ‘Thy faith hath saved thee’.” We would venture to add that these links of faith reveal most clearly the relation of God and men as partners in human life.”
This is the lesson we must be continually learning. Do we believe that God hears and answers our specific prayers?