by Dr. Charles Stanley
The often-quoted first chapter of James teaches about responding appropriately to trials. In hard circumstances, the heart is purified and faith strengthened. However, in order to formulate a proper response, we must ask for the Lord's wisdom. James then slips in a principle: "But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind" (v. 6). In other words, believers shouldn't vacillate between certainty that God will respond as He has promised and fear that He will not. Wavering faith hinders the Lord's plan.
Unacknowledged sin is often a cause of wavering faith, as is our tendency to focus on circumstances rather than on Christ. But uncertainty can frequently be traced back to our own weak prayer life. Far too many believers present unspecific requests: "Lord, You know what's going on with me and what I need. Please give me what I need." When a believer is unsure of what he is requesting, he cannot be confident the Lord will answer.
Sometimes our need is obvious, and we can ask God for it by name immediately. In other circumstances, we must seek His will before we can know how to petition Him: "Father, You promised that if I trusted You and did not lean on my own understanding, You would direct my path. So, I am expecting to receive clear direction from You." Since God longs for His children to make right choices, He is divinely obligated to show us His will when we ask. Whatever He impresses upon your heart, begin to pray specifically.