Welcome to Welling for your spiritual well-being and your ministry overflowing. At a certain period of chronology intersecting with biology, you find that you’re resized and reshaped. I noticed that my waist was getting smaller, and my height was shorter, and my clothes were getting too big.
And so what I did was send my trousers to a tailor, along with a model pant, model trouser, so that he could take these trousers, which were wrongly sized, and turn them into the same size as the model trouser. Guess what my biggest scare was? That he will try to somehow adjust the model trouser into what needed to be altered.
I had to make sure several times that this was the model trouser. James has told us about a God who can be asked and who can give. In a few verses, he provides an unbelievable set of promises that God makes and gives and keeps and meets and a particular kind of God, who’s a giver God, who’s a gracious God, who’s a generous God, that we can believe certain attributes about Him.
And so we never alter God. We have to alter our prayers. We can’t alter God to match our prayers. We can alter our prayers to match our God.
Calling it the altered altar– the altar of prayer altered to meet the God whom we worship. This altar of prayer, when it comes to needing wisdom from God, facing trials, this particular kind of God, the God whom we worship, the giving God needs a particular kind of prayer, a prayer in faith without doubting, that it’s offered in faith, not in fear or in fault-finding. Otherwise, it’s just noise. It’s still noise, fancy language, repetitious prayer, mimicking what others pray, if it’s not offered up in faith, is noise.
Sometimes I find myself praying aloud and just out of rote and the ritual of habit and memory of verbiage. That is not often faith.
Now, what is faith? Faith says that the promise of wisdom belongs only to those who have abandoned themselves trusting God into the future. They trust God’s character as good and faithful, God’s ability as full and powerful, God’s purposes as right and cannot be changed, that this is a God who can be trusted into the future, not a general, generic, abstract faith like the demons who exhibit that belief later on in the Book of James, but as an exclusive trust, a specific trust on the God, who he describes to us, undivided trust.
This faith doesn’t cause anything to happen. It is not a manipulative, obligatory faith, which compels God’s action on our behalf. If it caused anything at all, we will have more faith in faith than faith in the God who answers. If we– had faith caused anything at all, we believe in the force of faith. We see it as a measurable faith, and yet even the smallest of faith, the Lord Jesus says can move mountains.
So don’t place your faith in faith or faith in its power. That’s positive belief. Now, you believe your faith is in the God to whom you pray. And it is God who makes things happen.
Faith is a condition. Without faith, it is impossible to please God or even pray to God. It is a necessary condition of prayer. The assumption is that without faith, it is not prayer. But with faith, when offered to God, with God as the object of the faith, not faith as the object of faith, God takes your little gift of prayer in faith, and He makes it a big gift of endowment with wisdom. And you can be certain God gives.
Gracious and generous, He gives. Now, this faith, without doubt, has to be a practice that is developed. That means increasing our view of God. That is improving our view of God. It is intensifying our view of God. Our theology dictates our prayer, and our prayer dictates our view of God. Ask God to enable your faith. Ask God to foster your faith. Ask God to intensify your faith, to strengthen our faith in Him.
He doesn’t create faith, but He strengthens our faith, and God is pleased to hear that kind of prayer. In these talks, I try to mix some theology and philosophy and spirituality and practice along and built on the basis of scripture. Where scripture is clear, it dictates what we believe. When scripture is not as clear as we want, it is filled by theology or philosophy or other kinds of gap fillers.
We have something called necessary and sufficient condition. Necessary conditions and sufficient conditions help us understand the role of faith.
Faith is a sufficient condition. You’ve got to have some faith. Otherwise, you’re making noise, but without doubt, it’s a necessary condition.
For if you have doubt, why do you pray? You can pray without doubt, but you cannot pray without faith. They don’t go together at the same time. That kind of prayer makes you a vacillator, a doubter. Where you doubt God’s character and ability and purposes, doubt wants us to look at something else than God, to someone else then God. We fall into poor theology, distracted theology, diluted theology. Doubt is distressed, distrusting theology.
It’s trust of God without hesitation and trusting God with anticipation. That’s how He wants us to trust. That’s how He wants us to pray. That’s how we ask for something in faith, not wavering and doubting, not being torn here and there.
James uses a particularly powerful term, “dipsuchos,” a double-minded, double-souled man, a staggering man filled with not intellectual doubt but personal doubt, not academic doubt but doubt that he should be asking God at all. He doubts the request itself. He doubts the outcome of the request. He doubts the motivation of the request. It’s a double-minded man, a divided man. And so he offers a doubt-filled prayer.
God says, “Don’t come to Me like that, oh you of little faith. Why do you doubt? Don’t minimize Me along with your prayer. You will not receive anything from Me. But in faith, ask, and I will strengthen your faith, and I will provide what you need.
Faith-filled and doubt-filled prayer don’t go together. Have it faith-filled and doubt-empty, and you will receive everything from Me for the conduct of life in optimizing your trials.