If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do. James 1:5-8
I’ve heard and read a lot over the years about praying. A lot of different people have a lot of different things to say about how to ask God for things and why we should ask God for things and what happens when we ask. I’ve heard the debates about why sometimes God doesn’t answer or what exactly it is he is doing while we wait for him. But why don’t we hear more on the issue of divided loyalties?
Obviously there are some things we ask for—or some times when we ask—and the answer from God will simply be “No.” And there are times when it will just seem like God isn’t answering at all. But I don’t buy into the whole notion that the issue is with our faith (that we need more of it) or that we need to use certain language and “sow the seed” correctly and all that. I don’t think that’s what Scripture teaches. We’re called to ask and to trust and even a little faith is enough. But what James says here is pretty enlightening…and pretty convicting.
But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver…
Don’t waver like a person with divided loyalty. That kind of person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Does that sting you? It does me. How often do we have loyalty divided between God and the world? How often do we ask, all the while assuming that we won’t get an answer? How hypocritical is it to say words that sound so assured and confident in God when the asking comes out of a confidence in self or those around me?
How often do we ask God for something and then immediately turn and start making plans for an alternate avenue? I’m not saying we shouldn’t act responsibility here, but we have to consider how much of the time we act in the name of responsibility when actually we are acting out of divided loyalties. We have a desire to not lose face or to get what we want even if God doesn’t give it and it can cloud our sense of trust and reliance on God. We are definitely divided within.
The idea of asking God for something without having loyalties divided between God and the world means we have to take a hard look at our own hearts when asking. Why do we ask for the things we ask for? Why do we need wisdom from God?
Are we truly asking out of a pursuit of God himself? Are we asking because we are seeking to be his slave and the world’s servant? Or are we asking because we are trying to get ahead, trying to live up to the standards of the world? What motivates our desires in this life? For me, too often it’s not God. I want what the world suggests I should have. I want what the world thinks will make me a good husband, father, and neighbor. I want what the world says I have a “right” to or deserve.
I want. That pretty much sums it up. I ask because I want. And there is nothing wrong with wanting. It’s the source of the wanting that often draws me off track. When my loyalty is to the world I don’t want the things God wants. I don’t ask out of loyalty to him, but rather out of loyalty to myself.
I guess asking God for wisdom starts with asking for the wisdom to discern my own loyalties. I need to live my life with singularity of focus. I want to give God undivided loyalty. And I definitely need some wisdom for that.
There is a great divide within my heart. Everyday Jesus works to mend it, to repair and restore the damage I’ve done. As he works I pray that I will have the wisdom to stop fighting it, to see where I am divided and disloyal; to see where I am tossed back and forth by the winds of indecision, desire, and greed. And I do believe that God will give me eyes to see and wisdom to understand.