Faithlessness and Double Mindedness in Prayer

Jonathan95

Puritan Board Sophomore
What are some helps to doubting while in prayer. The service this past Sunday was on James 1:5-8. I've noticed that it is very hard for me to believe that I will receive whatever I pray for. Are we only to pray for what God has already promised? I get stuck in the mindset that the Lord has no need to do anything for me and that all things are for my good so perhaps I need to grow in contentment of my current circumstance rather than pray for them to change. What are some helps against this mindset and the discouragement that follows as a result?
 

RPEphesian

Puritan Board Junior
First, do you believe the Father loves you? I mean, love you so as to send His Son and sink Him to the pains of hell for your sake?

If not, there is the big problem. You cannot confidently ask God for anything if this doesn't ring true to you.

If you do believe it, the next question is, what good thing would He deny you after doing that?

Do you have an expanded view of what you may expect from prayers according to His will, or contracted? If latter, can His love for you and His glory tilt you toward an expanded view?

And for things not explicitly according to His will, do you believe He is a Father who loves to give? And if He doesn't give, that out of love He won't?

Luke 11, we are to ask for the Holy Spirit. Do you ask the Father to send Him? It is He who helps to pray aright, Romans 8.
 

Jonathan95

Puritan Board Sophomore
Do you have an expanded view of what you may expect from prayers according to His will, or contracted? If latter, can His love for you and His glory tilt you toward an expanded view?
These questions I don't really understand fully. I'm sorry! Can you elaborate?
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
I've noticed that it is very hard for me to believe that I will receive whatever I pray for.

Do you struggle to trust in the certain fulfillment of his promises? Or do you struggle trusting these promises apply to you specifically? Or do you struggle to desire what God promises at all? The remedy is different for different struggles.

I highly recommend this book if you want to dive into the deep end of doubting. There is a cheaper paperback version but I can not attest to its quality.
 

Jonathan95

Puritan Board Sophomore
When it comes to praying for wisdom, I struggle with trusting the fulfillment of the promise. I feel like I have prayed for wisdom in the past to no avail. Its hard because "wisdom" comes across as a rather nebulous concept to me. At the end of the day praying for wisdom doesn't seem to increase the probability of my making a wise decision, or understanding a scenario better. This makes it hard for me to pray for it because I don't truly understand what I am praying for. Is this the result of lacking faith?

When it comes to praying for anything else, it's difficult trusting that God wants me to have what it is I am asking for. I feel as if I tend to ask amiss. I truly believe that whatever I am asking for, is not truly needed. Its only something that I would prefer. Its difficult to pray for a preference when I understand that the Lord will provide grace whether I receive it or not.

I hope this makes a bit more sense. Its confusing explaining it. Sorry.
 

RPEphesian

Puritan Board Junior
When it comes to praying for wisdom, I struggle with trusting the fulfillment of the promise. I feel like I have prayed for wisdom in the past to no avail. Its hard because "wisdom" comes across as a rather nebulous concept to me. At the end of the day praying for wisdom doesn't seem to increase the probability of my making a wise decision, or understanding a scenario better. This makes it hard for me to pray for it because I don't truly understand what I am praying for. Is this the result of lacking faith?

When it comes to praying for anything else, it's difficult trusting that God wants me to have what it is I am asking for. I feel as if I tend to ask amiss. I truly believe that whatever I am asking for, is not truly needed. Its only something that I would prefer. Its difficult to pray for a preference when I understand that the Lord will provide grace whether I receive it or not.

I hope this makes a bit more sense. Its confusing explaining it. Sorry.

To explain post #2 better, part of the reason that we don't pray all that well is because we are not confident that God is interested in answering our prayers. If we have a low view of God's love, we will not have much in the way of confidence. But among many other things, the death of Christ ensures us of how much the Father does love us, as He gave His Son so that we might come to Him with boldness. If God is your Father, and even wicked men do wonderful things for your children, then why wouldn't the Father who sacrificed His Son for you not also long to give you what is good?

If you are not persuaded that He has goodwill to you, you won't persevere in prayer. But if you are confident of His love, you'll stay in prayer until you get an answer.

Applying that to things that God commands us to ask for, if we are not confident of God's goodwill to us, we may forfeit even the things we should ask for. It insults the goodness of God to think that He may tell us to ask, but we won't receive. But suppose we believe, how much of it we receive is in proportion to our faith. If we believe God will be stingy, we will receive a stingy amount, because we'll only ask for a stingy amount. But if we believe God desires and longs to give us the things He told us to pray for, we'll ask bigger, bolder, receive much more, provided that our own fleshly interest is not first.

As for things which God may or may not give because we have no promise, still ask in faith and hold nothing back from Him. Believe that since He is good, and if it is good for you, He can and will give it; or if the thing itself be not best, He will reward the faith. But for this reason you should ask for the Holy Spirit, so you do not pray amiss.

Wisdom is something which you ought to pray for. Read Proverbs 1 and 2. You'll see that God is pushing wisdom into your hands, as wisdom cries from the streets longing to teach the simple and scornful. Solomon lures us towards wisdom in the first chapters with enticing promises. You have a free and open invitation.

But, are you also studying to be wise? As in, going over the proverbs and wisdom literature, asking questions, making intense applications, examining your whole self in light of them, sticking with the mental labor until you are wiser? Do you have a good commentary to help guide you? Proverbs 2 teaches us that you must both cry out for wisdom--persevere in prayer--and you must also dig for it like gold and silver. That's hard labor. Solomon himself did not simply receive a super infusion of intelligence when he asked for wisdom, but Ecclesiastes 1 says he studied arduously and painfully to become wise; but the Lord made his labors fruitful, because he prayed.

You are asking God a good thing. Do not give up on asking such a thing. You will receive it. Solomon prospered all Israel with his wisdom, and per 1 Kings 4 had abundant riches and provision. It's calculated that he had enough to feed 3000-4800 per day in his own house. The Queen of Sheba so marveled at his wisdom and riches 1 Kings 10, that "there was no more spirit in her.".

But whether in wisdom or supply, a greater than Solomon is here. Christ has become to us per 1 Cor 1:30 "righteousness, wisdom, sanctification, and redemption."

The queen of Sheba would tell you, all the pains of travel were worth it.
 

Jeri Tanner

Moderator
Staff member
I think many read James and believe that if they ask for wisdom, and God supplies that wisdom, it’ll be in the form of a big light bulb turning on and they’ll suddenly have powers of seeing and discerning a situation they didn’t have before. But that doesn’t fit with the Bible’s way of gaining wisdom at all, as Jake alludes to above.
He mentions a growing familiarity with the Scripture and guidance from elders in the church, and that’s the path, along with prayer. You need to be in a sound church and get close to your minister and elders and stay there. You have lacked wisdom and if you want to reverse course from where that lack has taken you, you have to begin to listen and be patient and just do and be faithful with whatever first step and task, however small it may seem, is before you. Prayed for you! :)
 
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