Ask in faith. Without doubting
James 1:5-8
Ask God for wisdom, it WILL be given, but ask in faith and don't doubt.
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Published March 31st, 2016; Updated April 1st, 2016
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James 1:5-8
εἰ δέ τις ὑμῶν λείπεται σοφίας
If any of you lacks wisdom,
αἰτείτω παρὰ τοῦ διδόντος θεοῦ πᾶσιν ἁπλῶς καὶ μὴ ὀνειδίζοντος
let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach,
καὶ δοθήσεται αὐτῷ
and it will be given him.
αἰτείτω δὲ ἐν πίστει μηδὲν διακρινόμενος
But (In that) let him ask in faith, with no doubting,
ὁ γὰρ διακρινόμενος
for (the doubting one) the one who doubts
ἔοικεν κλύδωνι θαλάσσης ἀνεμιζομένῳ καὶ ῥιπιζομένῳ
is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.
μὴ γὰρ οἰέσθω ὁ ἄνθρωπος ἐκεῖνος ὅτι λήμψεταί τι παρὰ τοῦ κυρίου
For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;
ἀνὴρ δίψυχος
(Epexegetical) he is a double-minded man,
ἀκατάστατος ἐν πάσαις ταῖς ὁδοῖς αὐτοῦ
unstable in all his ways.
Central Idea: The request for asking for wisdom is stipulated by the manner in which you ask it. Explanation: I used situation (5a,b) response (5c) instead of action/pur or action/result because the depending on the manner in which we ask God responds differently. I see Paul placing emphasis on the manner in which we ask that corresponds with God's response thus I put response instead of the purpose because I don't see James stressing the purpose in the passage verses the manner and the response of God. Insights: If one asks in faith, he must ask without doubting. One who doubts is controlled by the waves of circumstance in his situation and is not truly trusting in God. Therefore he is unstable like the worldly influences that control him and the Lord will not give one wisdom when that person is basing his decisions on circumstance verses God's faithfulness. Questions: Don't we have a little doubt in everything? Can we have a perfect faith in asking for wisdom? Either we can thus God gives us wisdom, or there is some kind of grace in our asking and his giving. James does say "with NO doubting". He didn't say with little or no doubting. I don't think God gives us wisdom according to the "amount" of faith we have versus the doubt. Paul says completely no doubt.
Ron Christensen
Great comments! Thanks about the "Paul thing"... don't know what was going on in my head when I did that!  I think we can pray for God to help with our unbelief and doubt problems, but it's still worth noting that James was quite clear here, that he is putting a strong emphasis on not doubting. I think it is a warning and encouragement for us to take our prayers seriously and we should examine ourselves seriously in our prayers, AND at the same time trust that it is Christ who is advocating for us and His prayers for us WILL be with no "doubt" ....  clear as mud?
Thanks for this arc. One minor detail... You have Paul instead of James.

Regarding doubt, I think we all have some doubt when asking God for something. My doubts rarely center on the question of "Can God?" My doubts usually center on "Will God?" Kind of like the man who asked Jesus for healing. He said, "I know you are able, but will you?" 

So, if James is saying that God absolutely will give us wisdom, then we shouldn't doubt because the "willing" is already answered. 

Yet, perhaps we still have a little doubt even after the willingness of God is answered. This is, in my opinion, when our faith resides in the perfect Prayer Warrior that is always interceding on our behalf–Jesus.

Perhaps we should confess our belief and doubt at the same time. Perhaps we should pray, "I believe, help my unbelief.

Very interested in your feedback as you've obviously studied this more than me.
Disclaimer: The opinions and conclusions expressed on this page are those of the author and may or may not accord with the positions of Biblearc or Bethlehem College & Seminary.