If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
What is your reaction when you read that passage? Certainly there is a bigger context outside this passage, and lots of wonderful theological stuff I can throw at this, but what is your reaction?
You know what, first let's narrow this down a bit ... how about just verse seven ...
For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord
If you had to put one word that comes to mind what would it be?
If I'm honest, and life is too short not to be, I think sometimes part of me would use this word:
If that's your word - or something similar - I would like an opportunity to change mine and your perspective. First though, why? Why discouraging?
Perhaps because I read this and reflect on my own prayer life. I'm not sure I always (often?) pray with real expectation. I do indeed feel like a wave of the sea at times. Sometimes I may say during my conversation with the Lord "... but whatever Your will is Father ... " ... it sounds good ... and sometimes I truly mean this ... but sometimes I think it is really just a cover phrase for being unsure and doubtful.
However first of all, being discouraged, is not from Him. Nor does this passage mean that God will never give us anything if we doubt ... and frankly, I believe sometimes God uses His wonderful element of surprise (let's call it Grace in this case) to counter our doubt in hopes that we see how amazingly trustworthy He truly is. After all ... sometimes our darkest hours when He comes to comfort us does not always match with our most confident hours.
Challenge me if you wish, but I think this passage is to remind us of our relationship with Him, not just confidence when we pray.
The more strong our faith, the more strong our confidence and expectations will be in prayer. How do we increase our faith? By deepening our relationship with the Lord.
Don't read this passage and let it cause you to do mental acrobatics during prayer to force yourself to be confident. It doesn't work that way, I know, I tried! Just draw closer Him ... know Him ... love on Him ... learn to trust Him ... submit to Him ... let that control freak in you turn it over to Him ... and in turn that relationship will grow your faith, grow your confidence, increase your expectations, and will lead to a bountiful prayer life.
How do I know? Because I've been there ... the more I draw myself away from Him and focus on the business of life, the less confident my prayer life becomes. Why? Simply because I'm talking to a God I know I am distant from ... why would I feel confident in someone helping me that I'm essentially pushing away due to a priority problem? The days, weeks, months, and on that I'm closer to Him ... spend time with Him ... my prayers feel like they are scrolls with wings that are instantly lifted to His throne and read before a multitude with indescribable power.