These are my notes from a sermon series I did through the book of James. It has not been proofed for spelling or grammatical errors. I present it to you as-is.
You need God’s wisdom for your life. You need to know what God wants you to do and how to do it in your life. You need God’s wisdom in how you respond and treat your spouse, you need God’s wisdom in how to live a single life, you need God’s wisdom regarding who you date, and how you manage the finances you have. You need His wisdom as a parent, grandparent, uncle, aunt, or cousin. You need wisdom when dealing with the illness or death of someone close to you. You need wisdom when you are not treated fairly, when you are rejected, overlooked, offended, or ignored. You need wisdom when you are attacked, abused, or neglected. You need wisdom and God wants you to ask for it and He says He will give it to you.
God wants you to ask for wisdom. He wants to give it to you. He wants you to know what is the right thing to do for your situation. The Bible tells us to ask God for wisdom, but what does asking really mean?
With that said let’s look at James 1:2, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. 5 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.” (NLT)
To help you pray and ask God for wisdom, let’s take a look at some Biblical principles of asking when it comes to talking to God.
Asking is to be continual
Principle number one, asking is to be continual. The word “ask” (aiteo) means to continually be prayerful regarding what you need from God as situations arise. When you sense the need for wisdom, ask for it. Continual means two things.
- Continual in the sense of longevity. It has the idea of praying consistently throughout your life for wisdom, insight, and understanding regarding what God’s will is and what you should do when facing that difficult person or situation. It’s praying at all times throughout your life. It’s letting prayer be part of your lifestyle. It’s normal for you to ask your Heavenly Father for wisdom throughout your marriage, while raising children, and throughout your senior adult years. Longevity.
- Continual in the sense of persistence. You don’t give up if you don’t receive the wisdom you need immediately. You are more determined to receive God’s wisdom that the devil is to keep it from you. You are persistent in asking and seeking for wisdom for your marriage, finances, and your reactions to unkind people and challenging situations. You have a tenacious habit of asking God for wisdom because you are determine to experience what God wants you to experience, to heal what God wants you to heal, to go where God wants you go and to do what God wants you to do.
Ephesians 6:18 includes both ideas when it says, “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers…” (NLT).
Asking implies urgency
Principle number two, asking implies urgency. Asking (aiteo) implies a sense of urgency. “Lord, I’m about to talk to this difficult person and I’m needing your wisdom on what to say or not say, what to do or not do. Help me to control my emotions in order to hear clearly what Your Spirit is saying to me at this moment.” This is not being in a hurry with God or impatient with Him, but you are focused on hearing from God because the situation requires insight quickly resulting in your undivided focus and attention.
Asking implies a test
Principle number three, asking implies a test. When you sense that you need wisdom from God you can be confident that you have entered into one of many tests that God uses to build you and transform you. If you are being tested and it is not driving you closer to the Lord, the test may remain active and even intensify until you come to the throne of grace – until you “tune your ears to wisdom” and “concentrate on understanding” (Proverbs 2:2). Take a look at Proverbs 2:2-6, “Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. 3 Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. 4 Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures. 5 Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord, and you will gain knowledge of God. 6 For the Lord grants wisdom!” (NLT).
James is telling us that when you face trials, troubles, and problems you are being tested. So cry out for wisdom and ask for wisdom and the Lord will grant you the wisdom you need. When you sense that you need wisdom, you are sensing that a test is before you.
Asking implies a need
Principle number four, asking implies a need. You may not want to admit it, but the very fact you are asking (aiteo) God for something is a humble act and acknowledges you have a need that you cannot meet on your own. I’m convinced that God often allows His people to go through various trials to help them truly see their need for Him and His wisdom.
Some people only pray when life gets hard, so God will allow their life to get hard. When life seems easy and manageable we can think we are better off than we really are with God. This reminds me of a church who thought they were rich and had no needs, but God’s view of them was that they were “wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked” (Rev. 3:17, NLT). Asking reminds you how needy you really are before God. It keeps you humble. When you are asking for wisdom, you are saying you don’t know what to do. And that’s okay.
Asking implies a gift
Principle number five, asking implies a gift. God has wisdom in abundance (Rom. 11:33) and is infinitely more willing to give you His wisdom than you are to ask for it. He nevertheless expects you to ask Him for it. Wisdom is not something God will impress or force on you. Look at Jeremiah 29:11 where the Lord says, “For I know the plans I have for you. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me” (Jeremiah 29:11-13, NLT). God wants you to ask for His wisdom so that you can experience the future and hope that He has planned for you. This is a gift He is telling you to ask for. Jesus said, “You can ask for anything in My name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask Me for anything in My name, and I will do it!” (John 14:13-14, NLT). One of those things is wisdom. Jesus wants to glorify the Father through you by giving you the wisdom to do what the Heavenly Father wants you to do. This wisdom you need is a gift that God wants to give to you. Ask for it.
Asking implies access
Principle number six, asking implies access. James 1:5 says very plainly that if “you” need wisdom ask God for it. You can approach God. You don’t need a priest to pray for you. You don’t need to pray to Mary or to some saint. God has given you complete access to His heart and ear. Hebrews 4:16 says, “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most” (NLT). You don’t have to be afraid to approach God. Go boldly, confidently, and with expectation. Your Heavenly Father loves you and enjoys you coming to His throne. You don’t bother Him nor do you interrupt Him when you approach Him. You coming to Him is exactly what He wants and desires. He loves hearing from you and this is why He has given you access to Him. So go to God and ask God for wisdom.
Asking implies grace
Principle number seven, asking implies grace. You may feel hesitant to ask the Heavenly Father for wisdom one more time. You may feel like you are bothering Him, but you are not. You may think that because of the sin you struggle with, He will be angry at you for even thinking He would give you what you request. Because of thoughts like these, James tries to encourage you by saying, “He will not rebuke you for asking” (James 1:5). God will never say, “What? You again? I just gave you what you wanted and you’re back here bugging Me again?” God will never make you feel cheap or irresponsible for asking again and again for His wisdom. Rather, He invites you to ask for all the wisdom you need, as much as you want, whenever you want, and as often as you want. Instead of mockery, shame, ridicule, or embarrassment, God will graciously give you wisdom. Ask for it.
Let me add that this request is for wisdom. James is not telling you that you can ask God for anything and He will give it to you. James 4:3 says, “And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure” (NLT). Jesus promised, “You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father” (John 14:13, NLT). The phrase “in My name” means according to His purposes. Wisdom is according to His purpose for your life. God wants you to have wisdom. Regardless of what you think about yourself, go ahead and ask God for wisdom, He will give it to you.
Asking is to be done in faith
Principle number eight, asking is to be done in faith. Faith is supernatural confidence in God and what He says. James 1:6 says, “But when you ask Him, be sure that your faith is in God alone.” Faith is THE key to asking in prayer. Hebrews 11:6 puts it this way, “It is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him” (NLT). Faith means believing God will do what He has promised to do. In this case, God has promised to provide you wisdom if you ask for it. He can do it! He will do it!
When you think about it, it would be silly to ask something of a Being that you weren’t sure existed. Or, if He did exist, you weren’t sure if He cared about your request or if He had the power to grant it! So to ask from God, you must believe that He exists, that He personally cares for you, and He is able to give you the wisdom that you need to endure your trial with His joy. Trust God on this and ask!