Each of these verses deal with provision from the Lord, we need new strength, comfort, wisdom, material provisions and all types pf different needs we may have. All these can be truly met in Jesus Christ.
Starting off in the book of James it says we should ask believing and not doubting.
James 1:5-8 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
A significant barrier to receiving from the Lord is being in doubt about what we ask for. There are a few reasons we may doubt, but let’s use this as an example: can we truly have faith God will give us something Scripture clearly frowns upon? Obviously, we should have doubts in praying for something we know the Bible clearly says dishonors God.
Yet, even something good, such as wisdom, if we do not trust God to provide it and doubt Him, we see here God won’t honor a prayer for even something He would delight to give.
To understand the first part of James where it uses “double minded” it may be helpful to see that the term double minded is later used in James.
If we go to James chapter 4, we encounter a passage again dealing with “Asking” of God.
James 4:1-9 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.
Look at another barrier to prayer and receiving: “You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives,
1.) Failure to ask
2.) Wrong motives
It then in this passage uses the term “double minded” yet again. Now look at how it is used in context.
He uses terms such as
• “that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. ”
• “friendship with the world”
Don’t these two things contradict the Christian life? Being self centered? Fitting in with sinful secular society? These are against Christ. For Jesus Christ calls us to be like him –
Mark 10:42-45 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Does Jesus Christ call us to seek the world’s approval and be like the world? Certainly not!
We are called to be “holy” which means “Set apart”—
In Jesus’s prayer in John chapter 17 we see him say:
John 17:14-19 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.
So when it comes to having prayer answered we must always ask, does my prayer focus on the good of others, the body of Christ, the glory of God? Or is my prayer tainted with self centeredness that hinges on myself? If God was to answer my prayer would it make me more like Jesus Christ or the world around me.
Think about it, if God gave you success, more money, or this or that, then how would you use it? To honor Him, seek His kingdom and seek to advance his goals? Or would you just use the blessing to spoil yourself?
Do you want a new house, better car, or whatever it is, to compete and keep up with the “Jones” family. Are you trying to make others envious? Will you puff up with pride and feel like you are all that? Then, your motivation is worldly!
Yet if we can say “I want this to serve God better with and help me better live for Him.” For example wisdom or strength to live a godly life. Then if you can have no doubts God will answer.
Another thing, it is not wrong to desire things that are not prohibited in Scripture as wrong in and of themselves. Example, a godly wife if your a single man, or a godly husband if your a single woman. Or suppose you are married and praying for a child. All good gifts of God. Perhaps it is an open door for greater service and ministry, and that is a decent request. Then it often is a matter of waiting on the Lord till he decides we are ready.
This does not mean God blesses everyone with marriage or kids yet more likely then not, He does so often and may delay in providing.
The same is also true when it comes to open doors in greater service. The Lord often bids us to wait for seasons as He purifies us and prepares us to handle well such gifts he gives.
Yet, we should never seek any of His blessings to “complete us” or compete with others! Inferiority may drive people to grab for this or that to feel like a “somebody” or feel valuable and worthy.
These are never healthy reasons to want more “Blessings” or “This” or “that”! If we seek God’s blessings and gifts like they make us worthy, significant, or have purpose- then these become idols.
God also is not inclined to bless us with XYZ if it leads to us growing proud, arrogant or self indulgent.