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.
Verse 5 is a continuation of James's first thoughts on faith. Faith is the deep root that reaches into the inexhaustible river of Christ for life, nourishment, hope, peace, and ultimately changes us into His likeness. James encourages us to go to Jesus that we may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
But what happens if we do lack something? We go to God, and James gives an example of what that looks like. Say you lack wisdom (we all do), where do you turn? Who is the best person to give wisdom but the all-knowing, all-sovereign, source? All of proverbs can be summed up in one sentence: wisdom comes from God. And King Solomon is a living example of the benefits of going to the source. Solomon also illustrates the second point James makes: God is a generous giver. Solomon asked for wisdom to rule Israel, God made him the wisest man who ever walked the earth. When we come with our little buckets to The Lord's unending river, God opens up his floodgates.
Whenever Jesus spoke of prayer to his disciples, he always hammered home the point that God is a generous giver. God is generous to the point of extravagance. And moreover, Jesus places no limits on what we can ask of God. He calls, commands, explains, and woos us to ask and ask and ask of God.
- "Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him." (Matt6:8)
- "And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith." (Matt21:22)
- "And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" (Luke11:9-13)
- "Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. (John14:12-14)
But there is a caveat, the asking must be done in faith. Faith, those deep roots that seek the river of Christ, must be present. Our faith doesn't have to be big (Luke17:6) but it does have to be there and it does have to be firmly fixed on God.
So James turns and addresses the person who does not have faith. The doubter, the one who is not firmly fixed on and trusting in the promises of God, is like a storm tossed wave. No stability, no peace, no calm, no trust; with nothing to be anchored to, this person is fraught with anxiety. And more, because he does not believe the promises, and does not expect God to fulfill them, he receives nothing from God. He is "unstable in all his ways", the ultimate contrast of the Christian in v2-4.
So what can I do to increase my faith?
1) Ask. (Mark9:24) God is a generous giver and will work to increase my faith.
2) Read. Use the Word of God to mine the promises of God.
3) Preach. Repeate the promises of God to yourself throughout the day.
4) Practice. Is God your go-to when life happens? Retrain yourself to got to God first. Do so over and over again until it is your first reaction.
Train your roots down into the riverbed of Christ.