"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, without doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind" (James 1:5-6).
Yesterday I did something entirely different with that verse than usual. I believed it. I'm not being cute. I took God at His word that if anyone asks he receives. The thing I needed wisdom for was the choice of how to best spend the rest of the day, so in the nature of the case there was no time to wonder in my characteristic maybe-He-will-maybe-He-won't-give-me-wisdom fashion. He was either answering my prayer NOW or He wasn't.
That is to say, because of the built-in time restraints on the particular prayer request, I did not have the luxury of doubting for a week or two. I had to proceed with my day and to either believe that I was proceeding in a state of granted wisdom or I was not. I decided to believe that even as I was moving forward, God was with me and helping me to move wisely.
Another way of putting this is that in a rare move for me, I was shrinking and eliminating the gap between prayer and faith. Or to put still a finer point on it, I was praying and at the same time believing that I was receiving what I was praying for.
It did not escape my notice that this was the emphasis of the Bible passage to begin with. James, in the Spirit, was stressing that it is a very bad idea to pray for something and simultaneously doubt the response. It is crucial to maintain a simultaneity of prayer and belief. Jesus said as much when He told his disciples:
"Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours" (Mark 11:24).
When praying long-range prayers---like the salvation of all my children---there may be room to fudge. There may be the luxury of discussing with comrades the interesting theological factors that bear on a correct understanding of James 1:5-6. But the prayer for wisdom this afternoon forces the issue.
But this got me wondering. If it is right for me to eliminate the doubting period and to believe James 1:5-6 without interposing philosophical questions in this matter of the afternoon's wisdom, maybe that is the proper frame of mind for all prayer. Maybe I am to be as settled in my mind about the salvation of my children as I decided to be in the matter of how I was passing yesterday's hours.
As I say, I have never done this before---never made a request of God and instantly believed that God had answered my request and that I should move in that truth. The discovery is that there is a world of difference between the psychological state of praying that God may answer and praying that God is answering. The visible manifestation of that answer is another subject altogether. The point is that as soon as the prayer is uttered, the Lord is already working on it, already beginning the process that will ultimately bring it about. That's what Daniel learned from the angel (Daniel 10:12). The matter is to believe immediately that which we do not necessarily see immediately.
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