December 20, 2020

God Will Answer Your Prayers But You Must Not Doubt

"Being a Christian... is a character which I prize far above all this world has or can boast"[1]
Daily Reading : HEBREWS 11 - 13; JAMES
TEXT : Jas 1:1  James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. Jas 1:2  My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Jas 1:3  Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. Jas 1:4  But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. Jas 1:5  If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. Jas 1:6  But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. Jas 1:7  For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.
An Exposition, with Practical Observations, of The General Epistle of James
The writer of this epistle was not James the son of Zebedee; for he was put to death by Herod (Acts 12) before Christianity had gained so much ground among the Jews of the dispersion as is here implied. But it was the other James, the son of Alpheus, who was cousin-german to Christ, and one of the twelve Apostles, Mat_10:3. He is called a pillar (Gal_2:9), and this epistle of his cannot be disputed, without loosening a foundation-stone. It is called a general epistle, because (as some think) not directed to any particular person or Church, but such a one as we call a circular letter. Others think it is called general, or catholic, to distinguish it from the epistles of Ignatius, Barnabas, Polycarp, and others who were noted in the primitive times, but not generally received in the Church, and on that account not canonical, as this is. Eusebius tells us that this epistle was "generally read in the Churches with the other catholic epistles." His. Eccles. page 53. Ed. Val. Anno 1678. James, our author, was called the just, for his great piety. He was an eminent example of those graces which he presses upon others. He was so exceedingly revered for his justice, temperance, and devotion, that Josephus the Jewish historian records it as one of the causes of the destruction of Jerusalem, "That St. James was martyred in it." This is mentioned in hopes of procuring the greater regard to what is penned by so holy and excellent a man. The time when this epistle was written is uncertain. The design of it is to reprove Christians for their great degeneracy both in faith and manners, and to prevent the spreading of those libertine doctrines which threatened the destruction of all practical Godliness. It was also a special intention of the author of this epistle to awaken the Jewish nation to a sense of the greatness and nearness of those judgments which were coming upon them; and to support all true Christians in the way of their duty, under the calamities and persecutions they might meet with. The truths laid down are very momentous, and necessary to be maintained; and the rules for practice, as here stated, are such as ought to be observed in our times as well as in preceding ages.  (Matthew Henry)[2]
There is nothing more fundamental to the Bible than the virtue of faith.   Although love (or "charity") is by far the supreme virtue of the believer, or Christian, faith is its predecessor.  Therefore, faith, or believing what God has said (written) is of inestimable value.  Faith is perhaps the most emphasized and salient theme of all 66 books of the Holy Scriptures.
The Apostle James accentuates that faith must be tested ("the trying of your faith").  He states through the Holy Spirit, that this testing of your faith works patience.  Further, when God is finished testing you, your patience will be "perfected." Once this is accomplished, you become "perfect," and will want [lack] nothing.  The concept for the truth behind this is that if you can believe God like the Patriarchs, Prophets, and Apostles of the Holy Scriptures did, you will be able to "wait" until you receive your answer -whatever and whenever that may be.  You know, no doubt, that the testing of your faith can be difficult and worrisome.
With wisdom as the central subject on the principles of answered prayer (faith), you are told that if you lack wisdom - ask God.  How simple the Apostle James states this truth.  If you do not know what to do - ask God.  Unfortunately very few people do.  They will talk to everyone except God.  Yet, the promise is set before you that if you ask God he will give you the wisdom you need.  Further, many Christians today do not understand that wisdom is the "principal thing," according to Proverbs 4:7 ("Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.") Not everything in life is force or strength (that is, physical strength).
In any case, this truth though simple, has a condition that is not always easy.  The fact that wisdom (or anything else that is needed of God when you are praying) must be asked for in a faith that does not "waver." The word "wavering," comes from a Greek word that means to separate or discriminate.[3] It also means to hesitate.  Therefore, the application is of someone who is vacillating between two "opinions." In other words, at one moment you say - "Yes, God will answer my prayer." Then, sometime later, you say -"No, God is not going to answer my prayer." This fluctuating between yes and no may of course have days or weeks between the two contrasting opinions.  Nevertheless, it is what the Bible considers "wavering." It is the sign that you are not fully convinced that your prayer will be answered.
Jesus often spoke of doubt concerning his power, his ability, and his willingness to answer requests that were made of him.  Doubt, is a frequent theme found in the Gospel accounts.  Jesus would ask questions such as -"wherefore didst thou doubt." or -"how is it that ye have no faith?" Then again -"where is your faith?"
Therefore, you see, the principle of wavering, or of total unbelief, is seen often in the Bible in both Old and New Testaments.  God requires that you believe his word.  As stated, this is a simple concept, yet it is not always easy.  Moreover, in most cases believing God against the facts, or against the odds, or when you are in desperate need and do not see any help or any assistance nearby, is when believing is tested.  Most times, or at least many times, faith is tested right to its [your] limits.  Once again, believing is simple but not always easy.
Nevertheless, God still requires that we believe without doubting.  No matter how difficult this may seem, God who cannot change, requires a faith that does not waver.  For instance, Jesus said -"whatsoever things ye ask believing, ye shall receive."[4] These verbs - ask, believing, are in the present tense.  Therefore, you could for rephrase it this way -"whatever things you are asking for [present tense] believing (right now) you shall receive (future tense)."
This is a simple principle.  Yet, if an answer is delayed weeks or months, to continue believing is certainly a test.  There are many occasions when God does not answer your prayer immediately.  In fact, to receive an immediate answer to prayer is not the norm.  Certainly, not all prayer takes weeks or months to be answered.  Yet, in most cases there is a "divine delay" in prayer being answered.  This is where faith comes in.
If you read the 11th chapter of the book of Hebrews, you will read of the great heroes of the faith.  No doubt, their faith was tested often.  Yet, even though they had to wait -sometimes years or decades, they never stopped believing God.  These Prophets, Patriarchs, and Apostles are your examples to follow.  You must refuse to doubt God.
It should be noted here that answers to prayer must be within the guidelines of the Bible.  In other words, "anything" does not mean "anything."  This should be self-evident and obvious, yet in the Church world you live in today, it is not always so evident or obvious.  Therefore, take note that your requests must be within the boundaries of the Bible.  However, the Apostle Peter states you have "exceeding great and precious promises." This means, there are so many promises in the Bible you could not an exhaust them all in a lifetime.  God has made hundreds if not thousands of promises that you can claim whenever you need help in any particular area of God's word.
The Apostle James states that a man or woman who wavers in their faith is similar to a wave of the sea that is driven by the wind and tossed about.  Surely, you have seen a tempestuous ocean.  The water goes back and forth.  Waves rise and fall.  In all, the water is unstable, not stable.  This is the picture the Apostle James uses to illustrate the person who fluctuates between - "yes and no," with respect to the promises of God.  They are like a storm at sea.  Certainly, this is not the picture of the steady, undeviating Christian.  Obviously, it is the picture of a man or woman who is, as we say - "mixed up."
Further, God in the Bible, writing through the Apostle James, is emphatic when he states if you waver in your prayer to him you will not receive any thing of the LORD.  Read it again in James 1:7 -"For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the LORD." This is a challenge to your faith.  It takes perseverance, determination, courage, and a will that does not give up no matter what.  Namely, you are determined to receive your answer to prayer, and will not impugn the character or integrity of God and his word by doubting.
The Apostle James states in an offhanded way, that those who waver are "double minded."[5] This Greek word literally interpreted means "two spirited." The application of the word means to vacillate.  The Apostle will employ this word again in his epistle when he writes in Jmaes 4:8 -"Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded." In both instances, the point is clear -you must not deviate in your mind as to your expectation that God will come through for you.  You must not fluctuate back and forth.  You must believe that whenever you have a steadfast and resolute faith you will receive.
This has always been the standard of God from the beginning.  Search the Scriptures, and you will learn that God tests the faith of his people.  Further, in each case - whether individually or corporately, God requires an unwavering faith.  He expects you to believe him even though you are tempted (as all of God's people are) to doubt.  Doubting is in your nature.  It is in the nature of all men and women to doubt what they cannot see, feel, or hear.  However, you walk by faith not by sight.  "For we walk by faith, not by sight." [2Co_5:7] Therefore, God will answer your prayers - but you must not doubt.

  • [1] A. G. Arnold, The Life of Patrick Henry of Virginia (Auburn and Buffalo: Miller, Orton and Mulligan, 1854), p. 250.
  • [2] Henry, Matthew. Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible. Public Domain, [1662 - 1714].
  • [3] G1252, διακρίνω, diakrinō, dee-ak-ree'-no, From G1223 and G2919; to separate thoroughly, that is, (literally and reflexively) to withdraw from, or (by implication) oppose; figuratively to discriminate (by implication decide), or (reflexively) hesitate: - contend, make (to) differ (-ence), discern, doubt, judge, be partial, stagger, waver.
  • [4] Mat_21:22  And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.
  • [5] G1374, δίψυχος ,dipsuchos, dip'-soo-khos, From G1364 and G5590; two spirited, that is, vacillating (in opinion or purpose): - double minded.
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