The epistle of James was sent to Christians who had been scattered abroad as a result of persecution. James knew that the human response to the difficulties and dangers we face in life can either cause us to doubt God’s goodness or increase our trust in His sufficient grace. He knew that disbelief in God’s goodness and power during times of great problems and pain means a man or woman is unstable in their faith, resulting in them being buffeted and bruised by the circumstances of life, and victims of the situation they are facing. Men and women who are secure in their faith, trust completely in God’s goodness and power, and become victors through the sufficient strength that is supplied to all God’s children by faith.
And so James reminds us that the trials we face are designed to test our dependence upon God, strengthen our faith in Him, and drive us to our knees in prayer and supplication so that we may receive His grace and mercy to help in time of need. And so we are called upon to pray, and specifically to pray for wisdom.
James does not necessarily encourage these believers to cry out for God’s help or His strength in their desperate time of need, nor does he advise them to request an escape from the fiery trial they are facing. James does not even plead for an easy release from the various trouble that is pursuing their path. He is wanting these believers to come to a deeper knowledge of the Lord and a more secure trust in God, and so he exhorts them to pray for wisdom. He knows that if they pray for wisdom, then in their trial they will learn the precious lesson that the Lord desires to teach them; and God gives liberally to all who simply ask Him. But there is a condition in this prayer request for wisdom in times of trouble: “Let him ask in faith without doubting,” for the enemy of all prayer is unbelief.
How important that our prayers are not a ritual or a duty, but are offered to the Lord in faith. How important to pray in faith, expecting the Lord to answer our request. Prayer that is offered up in unbelief causes a man or woman to be tossed hither and thither by doubts and uncertainty about God’s goodness and grace. But the walk of faith is a life that is lived trusting God in the midst of difficulties, holding fast to His precious promises, and knowing that God’s Word stands fast for ever and ever.
Heavenly Father, thank You that I am encouraged to come boldly to Your throne of grace for help in times of need. Help me to pray in complete faith to You and teach me to always pray in Your will. May I also be reassured that although nothing is impossible for You, sometimes Your answer is “No” but always for my greater good and Your greater glory. May I never doubt Your goodness or strength, and may I always rely on Your ultimate wisdom. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.