A Prayer for Wisdom from Above – 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. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

James 1:5-8 NIV

Do you lack wisdom? Most of us do not have nearly as much wisdom as we might like to have. So how might we grow in wisdom? James tells us to pray for it, and that God will grant us that prayer. But it is not quite that simple.

Later in his letter, James 3:13-18, James describes two types of wisdom. One is from heaven, and the other is earthly. And I believe that it is this heavenly wisdom that James is concerned about here in this passage. Wisdom that is pure, peace-loving considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and sincere. Wisdom that helps us to know God and to live in communion with his people. That is the kind of wisdom that God will graciously give to those who ask him.

Believe that God Will Answer

But there is a big caveat to this prayer for wisdom. As we prayer, we need to do so believing that God will answer us, providing us with the wisdom we seek. James is clear, that if we doubt God’s gracious desire to give us wisdom in response to our prayer, that we should expect no answer to our prayer. And he goes on to call such a person double-minded and unstable.

That seems harsh. But it is in keeping with the rest of our walk with Christ. It should be a walk of faith, and that includes our prayer life. All that we do as believers should be done in faith. Believing that God exists and rewards those who seek him (Heb. 11:1,6). If not, then we will find that we drift to whatever it is that currently offers us the best hope. We are double-minded and unstable.

If you lack heavenly wisdom, pray for it. And, if you pray believing that God will answer you, you will receive the wisdom you need to face the trials you will experience as a follower of Jesus.

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