God desires to answer our prayers for wisdom, so let's ask in resolute faith knowing He will keep His promise.
Published January 12th, 2021
j If any of you lacks wisdom,
k let him ask God,
l who gives generously to all without reproach,
and it will be given him.
But m let him ask in faith,
n with no doubting,
for the one who doubts is like o 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;
p he is a double-minded man,
q unstable in all his ways.
Main point summary
Pray for wisdom knowing that God wants to answer that prayer, but do so with faith and not doubt so that your prayer will be answered.
Observations and Questions: v5 - If We Lack Wisdom, Pray The condition in verse one implies that there will be situations where we will not know what to do. Prayer for wisdom is the solution to those situations. God has positioned Himself to be ready and willing to answer prayers for wisdom. The ESV translation "generously" implies that God will not hold back in pouring out wisdom when asked for it. However, Moo argues that the Greek word απλως based on cognates in the NT and LXX can mean "single" or "undivided". Taken this way, the focus is not so much on God's generosity (which is still legitimate) but His undivided intentions to give us wisdom to live in a manner that pleases Him ("The Letter of James, PNTC, 58-59) . God is gracious in that He understands our finiteness. We simply do not know all things as He does. Therefore, when we ask for wisdom He does not respond with contempt or disgust as if we should know already. v6 - The Manner of Prayer The manner or attitude with which we pray is just as important as the prayer itself. Prayers that lack faith are disingenuous and place skepticism on the power and ability one to whom the prayer is offered. I think I would go so far as to say that a prayer offered to God that doubts His ability to answer that prayer is offensive especially in this situation. We know that praying for wisdom is consistent with God's will, so to doubt that He will answer such a prayer when He says He will is offensive to Him. Prayers prayed with doubt expose the instability of the faith of the one praying. Waves never hold the same form or consistent pattern, but are constantly changing. Contrast Hebrews 6:19. v7 - Don't Bother God will not answer the person who comes to Him in one moment but looks to other sources in another moment. God will not be presumed upon. The faithless doubter should not bother asking for wisdom. v8 - The Grounds for Unanswered Prayer A house built on two separate foundations lacks the stability a unified foundation has. So also the "double-souled" individual. This unity of soul seems to fit well with the single or undivided interpretation of "generously" in 5c. God is undivided in His focus to give us what we need, we need to be undivided in our faith when we make requests to God.