Daily Devotion | Day 295
“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” (James 1:5-7, NKJV).
Yesterday, we started looking at barriers to prayer. We identified unforgiveness as a barrier based on Jesus’ teaching on the subject. Today, we will examine a second barrier to prayer, namely doubt. We will look at how doubt blocks prayer from being answered, and what we can do to keep doubt at bay. Before we proceed, let us note that we can put doubt and fear in the same category. Although they are distinct, they are two sides of the same coin. They have the same root, which is unbelief. And, they produce the same result by preventing prayer from being answered. This means we can use doubt and fear interchangeably. However, for the sake of consistency, let’s stick to doubt.
When you look at today’s Scripture passage, it’s self-explanatory. James couldn’t have been any clearer. He says, if you need wisdom, ask God and He will grant your request. James used wisdom as an example. You can replace wisdom with anything else you need and the rule still applies. James tells us why God will answer your prayer. He says, it is the Father’s nature to give plentifully and without reproach. Our Father is neither cheap nor stingy. He is all about abundance, excellence and munificence.
Next, James tells us how to ask and how not to ask. This is where Christians need to pay attention. Getting prayer results is not about merely asking; it’s about how you ask. We should ask in faith, because only faith will produce the desired result. God gives to those who ask in faith. He honors faith and despises doubt.
When you ask God for something and you have doubts about it, this is what you’re (unconsciously) saying: “God is not who He says He is. He is not faithful. You can’t depend on Him. Maybe He doesn’t love me. Sometimes He is good; other times, who knows?” James adds that the one who doubts should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. This last point sums up everything we need to know about the effect doubt has on our prayer requests.
Doubt is a form of faith. But it is faith that moves in the opposite direction. In other words, doubt is negative faith. If faith is “F,” doubt is “-F.” When you doubt, it means you have faith that what you’re asking will not happen exactly as you asked. Let’s consider an example of how we can express doubt without realizing.
Let’s assume that I, Stephen, am in college. I’m fascinated with astrophysics. I’m applying for a graduate program in Astrophysics, and I’ve heard that ‘Heaven University’ has the best program available. I’m excited, because this is exactly the program I want. Before submitting my application, I went on my knees and prayed to the Father to open a door for me to be admitted. I concluded my prayer with “Amen,” which means “So be it” or “Let it be so.”
Two days later, I met some friends who told me how extremely competitive the program was. I learned that each year the program receives close to 30, 000 applicants, of which only the top 50 candidates are selected. When I heard that it suddenly dawned on me how slim my chances were. When I got home, I Googled the program to verify what my friends said. They were right. Then I said to myself, “Wow!”
Consequently, I started looking at other programs I didn’t want but which offered a more ‘realistic’ chance of admission. At this point, my initial faith had turned to doubt. My attitude showed I had lost faith in my prayer. I failed to respect my own “Amen.” I chose to believe statistics over my Father in heaven’s ability to give me what I ask.
In spiritual terms my actions translate into something like this: “God, sorry for putting you in an awkward position. The first time I asked, I didn’t realize the magnitude of the challenge. Let’s forget about my earlier request and move on to something You can deliver.” Of course, Christians will not open their mouth to say these exact words, but often their actions do the talking. Actions speak louder than words.
You can think of other examples, but I hope you get the point. Don’t say, think or do things that will negate your prayer. Be consistent in what you believe. Faith is powerful. But so is doubt. With doubt, you can move your life in the wrong direction.
If you doubt, don’t ask. And if you ask, don’t doubt.
Blessing: May God bless you and energize your faith, in the Name of Jesus. Amen.
For further study: Matthew 14:22-33