Jump start # 3058
James 1:6 “But let him ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.”
When one looks at this passage, several thoughts and questions rise to the surface. Why is this person praying, if he is doubting? Why ask God if he believes nothing will happen? Why go through the process at all?
And, I have heard people who fit this passage exactly. “I’ll pray,” they say, “but it won’t do any good. I just know nothing good is going to happen.” And, they are right. Nothing good happens. Now, they may comfort themselves by saying, “I told you so,” but the truth is, they doomed their prayer even before it left their lips. They closed the door to Heaven even before their prayer reached Heaven. And, for some, they would point the finger at God for not answering their prayer. “See,” they say, “I knew God wouldn’t answer my prayer.” They didn’t give God a chance. Their faithless heart killed their prayer.
The next verse is exact when it says, “For let not that man expect that he will receive anything from the Lord.” Doubting prayers can be a plague of our times, our churches and our homes. Just why would a doubter pray in the first place?
Here are some thoughts:
First, it may be that he has been told over and over to pray and he has tried everything else, so he prays. He doesn’t think anything will happen, and because of that, nothing does happen. He sits in the church building listening to sermons about prayer. So, he prays. He prays because he feels compelled to. He prays because he has to. He prays out of peer pressure and guilt and not out of love for the Lord. And, when nothing happens, it only stiffens his resolve to pray less. “Why pray,” he thinks, “nothing ever happens.”
Second, he views prayer, much like a gambler does the dice table. The gambler has lost a lot of money. But he tries, one more time. Lady Luck, he believes will shine on him one of these days. And, this is how some view their prayers. Most times, nothing happens. But, he’ll try one more time. Maybe this time, things will turn God’s ear. He knows the odds are against him. He knows the track record isn’t good. He prays, with more hope on chance than on God. He holds out for luck, not faith. If I’m lucky, God will answer my prayer. He must think that of thousands of prayers ascending to Heaven every day, that God randomly picks a few and answers those. And, if one keeps trying, he might get lucky one day. What a pitiful view of God he has and what a warped concept of prayer he has developed in his heart. That’s not how God operates and it is not how prayers are answered.
Third, yet another reason someone might pray doubting is because he has heard that good Christians pray. He wants to be a good Christian. He prays because he is supposed to, not because he wants to. This same person attends worship for the same reason. That’s what good Christians do. He attends because he has to, not because he wants to. His entire walk with God is a matter of checking off the right boxes on a sheet of paper. Did you read your Bible today? He’d check that “yes.” Have you prayed today? Another, box checked off. But, it is mechanical and not emotional. It’s duty, not desire. It’s have to, and not, want to. When people think of good Christians, he wants to be in that group.
Fourth, still another reason why someone prays doubting is because he doesn’t fully understand the Lord. He believes that God will not answer his prayers because he has not been as he should. His sins, although forgiven by God, they are never forgotten by himself. He remembers. How could the God of Heaven have anything to do with someone like me, he believes. He prays, but he doubts. He feels so worthless and so overcome by guilt that he questions his salvation and wonders aloud if Heaven would even be possible for him. He prays, but thinks, God won’t answer a sinful man. This person hasn’t grasped the concept of forgiveness. He needs to forgive himself. He needs to give himself another chance, as the Lord is giving him.
Four different people pray. They all doubt. They all have different reasons for doubting. All of their prayers fall flat. It’s not God. It’s not what they are asking for. It’s a lack of faith that is keeping their prayers from God’s ears.
What we learn in the Scriptures is that prayer doesn’t have to be long to be effective. Prayer doesn’t have to touch all the right points and categories to be answered. Prayer does not have to be built upon large words. Realize who you are talking to. Know God. Pray from your heart. Open the curtains of your heart. Be honest. Be true. Be humble.
There are a number of ways that prayer can be worthless. Peter tells husbands that the way they treat their wives can impact their prayers. You can’t be wrong with your wife and right with God. Prayer can be worthless if we ask things outside the will of God.
What a blessing it is to know that you can talk to God any time and any where. There is never a time when prayer doesn’t fit. God is always there. God is always caring. What a benefit, what a blessing, to be a child of the Lord.
Let us be a people who believe in prayer. Let us pray believing.