James 1:6-8 Double-Minded Prayer

James 1:6-8 “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.
For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.
A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.”

Let’s take a look at a warning regarding our prayers today. We often hear from people that God hears all prayers, or that God will give us anything we ask as long as we tag on the end of our prayers “in Jesus’ Name, Amen” or that there are three answers God gives “Yes, no, later.” However, the Bible says otherwise, in many verses. If we don’t forgive, we won’t be forgiven no matter how much we pray – Mark 11:25-26! Husbands who don’t treat their wives righteously can have their prayers hindered – 1 Peter 3:7. Then it says elsewhere that if we ask something, according to our flesh rather than the will of the Lord, we also won’t receive it – James 4:3. These are just a few things that remind us that God is NOT our genie that we can rub and get Him to grant our wishes. Today I want to focus on the problem of being double-minded.

Have you ever prayed, and then turned around and doubted that the Lord would give you what you just prayed for? Many overly-pious people would say “Me? Never, I don’t doubt, I believe God!” . . . yet their heart, and their words in conversations with people, and even their actions, often reflect otherwise. The problem is, this doubt, and this “double minded” ness as we see in today’s scripture, can be very subtle, or sneak up on many of us. I’ve seen many people pray for the salvation of loved ones, and then turn around and weep and moan and be worried that they’re going to go to hell or be worried that they did this or that wrong. They will pray for the Lord to intervene, and then perhaps because they expect God to immediately strike them down with a lightning bolt of grace and mercy and they get saved and love the Lord and His Word and suddenly want to have house meetings and Bible studies…but then they don’t see that happen and they within an hour of saying they trust God to take care of the person, are worrying themselves sick (literally) about them and asking other people to pray or complaining about their actions or whatever else. This, is a form of being double-minded and doubting the Lord.

I’ve also seen people pray for the president, or pray for the government, that the Lord intervene in a situation or that the Lord change the hearts of the people. Then in the very next breath they literally start telling people that these people they just prayed for will never change. “I’m just being real” is often a phrase they say to make themselves feel better about their double-mindedness. No, such things are not being “real” but rather they are being “natural” and “carnally minded” instead of “spiritually minded as warned about in Romans 8:6. We need to stop pretending that we believe God is all powerful and that God hears our prayers, if we in our hearts actually believe that God does not hear our prayers or that man can overpower the Spirit of the Lord!

Now, I’m not saying anything about praying once and then never again for something. No, the Lord is clear that continual prayer for a situation does not mean a lack of faith but can actually be a sign of faith, as He says in Luke 18:1-8. Instead, I’m speaking of praying for something, and then acting like it’s not going to happen. I’m talking about praying for something, and then speaking as though your prayers were never spoken. Sometimes this can be a very subtle thing, and other times it can be a very obvious thing. But in each situation, the Lord warns that the one praying, should not expect his/her prayer to be accepted. So actually, when you pray for something and then turn around and act like it won’t happen, you are guaranteeing to yourself that it won’t happen! Consider two farmers. Both pray for rain during a drought. One of them throughout the day complains about how dry it is, and how this drought is going to kill their crops, and that they need to prepare for the loss. They talk about how hopeless things are “unless a miracle somehow happens” to other people. The other farmer on the other hand, prays, and buys an umbrella, and makes preparations as though it is about to rain. Which of the two, actually had faith?!

Surely, that farmer who was double-minded is wise to prepare for the loss, because the Lord says he won’t be given what he asked for. Most of the time people who do this, often blame the Lord or they say, “I KNEW the Lord wouldn’t give what I prayed for! I was right to doubt and prepare for the worst!” They don’t realize that it was their doubt that brought about that loss, in a sort of “self-fulfilling prophecy” so to speak. Instead they will blame the Lord, or say it’s the Lord’s will, rather than admit their own accountability. It’s easy to point fingers rather than examine ourselves first.

I would love to try to reach such people, and have them realize what they are doing. However, I’ve found that often they are coupled with just enough pride to refuse to admit that they doubt. Sometimes, it’s out of fear that they don’t want to admit that they struggle with doubting. Other times they have that pride. Yet the solution to such a thing can be seen very clearly in James 4:8Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” Purify your heart. In other words, examine yourself, realize and admit that you are struggling with doubt. And do whatever is necessary to purify your heart before the Lord! Often, that requires that you once again become like a child, and live by the mantra “God said it, that settles it” and stop leaning on your own understanding of things (Proverbs 3:5). Learn from the father of the possessed child in Mark 9:19-24 who due to doubt, questioned with a big IF, the Lord could help him:

He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me.
And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming.
And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child.
And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.
Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.
And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.

Notice, the father of the son did not tell the Lord, “Oh I believe! Amen! I don’t have any doubt!” Rather, he replied to the Lord, “Lord, I believe” but then the key right after, “HELP THOU MINE UNBELIEF.” And that admittance of doubt, and equally prayer asking for help to believe, was a sign of faith even when struggling with doubt. Doubt can actually become sin! And we must treat it as sin to us, and repent of it. If we struggle with it, treat it like any other struggle by fighting against it, rebuking it, repenting when we give in, and above all: admitting, confessing to the Lord, and asking for His help to overcome it!

Let us be warned…being double-minded, praying and then doubting, confessing trust in the Lord yet speaking worrisome doubt or trying to take control of the situation yourself…these are NOT neutral or perfectly fine things for Christians to live with. These things stop our prayers. And these things can be sinful. And these things need to be crucified in our flesh, purified from our hearts, and removed as we cry out “Lord, help my unbelief!” Let us pray in faith, nothing wavering.

I love you all and continue to pray for you daily. I ask that you please do keep the entire body of Christ in your prayers each day, as each of us need to hold each other up in this spiritual war we fight! May God continue to bless you dearly, and I hope to see you again soon!

Love always in Christ Jesus,
Your friend always,
And brother,