Impacting Cities & Communities thru Prayer
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Several days ago, I came across a really helpful interpretation of James 1:5-6, about asking God for wisdom, believing and not doubting. This was in Chris Tiegreen's "One-year Walk With God" devotional (which I highly recommend, by the way).
James tells us to ask God for wisdom, but then warns that when we ask, we must believe and not doubt, because "he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind". I've always thought that the belief referred to in this passage was belief that God would answer the prayer, but Tiegreen takes it a step further. He interprets the belief as meaning "believing that God's answer is wisdom" and implying a prior commitment to following God's guidance.
If we believe that God's answer is true wisdom, Tiegreen argues, we will be committed to following that answer - whether or not it agrees with our preferences or our own thoughts about the right direction. This commitment doesn't allow us to consider God's path as one of many directions to follow. If we ask God for wisdom and then just throw his answer "in the pot" as one of many options, then we fail to trust God's wisdom to be true wisdom. This is what leads us to be "blown and tossed by the wind".
In fact, Tiegreen argues, if we don't have this prior commitment to obeying God's direction, he won't answer the prayer for wisdom. He does not give advice to be considered - He gives wisdom to be heeded, direction to be followed.
Thinking about it this way, I can look back over my life and recall some key decisions that I made without a lot of prayer. I think that I instinctively realized that I had made up my mind which way I was going to go, and wasn't really open to a different leading from God, so I never bothered to ask Him for wisdom.
I'm older now, but only wiser when I commit myself to following God's wisdom. Based on Tiegreen's conclusions, I no longer see a prayer for wisdom as something I would just toss up on the spur of the moment. To really pray for wisdom, I need to be committed to following where God leads, to holding my own desires and thoughts with open hands. A prayer for wisdom is first and foremost a prayer of surrender - which makes it both much harder and much more meaningful.