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On asking and receiving

“But he must ask in faith without doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed around by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he should receive anything from the Lord, since he is a double minded individual, unstable in all his ways.” [James 1:6-8)

Yesterday we talked about wisdom and how it’s available in generous supply to anyone who asks God for it. Now there seem to be a few strings attached to receiving. Or at least I see strings. You must ask in faith and not doubt which makes God appear a little bossy or perhaps picky. I picture this line of people approaching the throne with their petitions and God scans their hearts to see if they qualify. If enough faith is detected, the request is granted. If your story includes striving or constantly trying to measure up, you may conclude that you’ll never have enough faith for God to be pleased or particularly responsive to you and conclude the asking or approaching God will not work.


James uses a quick word picture from the sea, a metaphor which he will use again later on in his letter. Don’t be a doubter, he urges. Know who you are. You are not a helpless wave that the wind knocks around. You’re a person made in the image of God. So know who you are and know what you want and believe that you are worthy to receive something good.

I used to think of this sort of text as a formula. Petition+Faith= Request granted

God is not a formula and black and white thinking will not help you feel more connected. Also what is the measure of faith? I picture it as a quantity and before even asking, conclude I don’t possess enough.

What if it’s not quantity though, and what if I have it all backwards? God is not put off by my doubt or requires loads of faith to fork over any goods. Doubt is simply a barrier to receiving. I cannot effectively receive anything good if I distrust the giver, the gift and myself. Doubts robs me on my end. God does not need my faith to transfer the goods. I need to believe to receive.

Otherwise James will jump right into calling me unstable and double minded which seems like a bit of a leap from simply being a couple measures short on faith. Another crazy formula could be:

No faith= get nothing + you’re unstable and confused

Forget the formulas but remember that you’re enough and you have what it takes to ask. You’re worthy of good things so shamelessly ask for what you want. You’re not a wave. You’re a person made in God’s image, worthy to receive the goodness he offers.

Happy Friday!


2 Replies

  1. Grace

    Completely agree that we can’t tell God what to do and that there’s not a formula for getting what you want per se. However, I have found a technique that helps me feel aligned with the will of God through gratitude. Here’s what it is:
    1. Get out a pen and paper (this seems to work much better than doing it on your computer)
    2. Write for just a few minutes a day. Start with “I’m so happy and grateful that……”
    Fill in the blanks with two things: a) Whatever you can genuinely feel thankful and grateful for that’s in your life right now b) Whatever you WANT to be in your life, but haven’t seen yet. The key is to believe that you already have it and you’re feeling gratitude for it even now. (see Romans 4:17).

    1. Astrid Melton

      I like that. Thanks for sharing. I also connect w/ pen and paper in special ways

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