John Wesley on Prayer Lesson 17

*Ask in Faith

Ask in faith without any doubting.

James 1:16 NASB

Regarding the use of prayer as a means of grace, the direction which God has given us by the apostle James is most clear. With regard to prayer of every kind, public or private, and the blessing attached to it, he says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach” (James 1:5 NKJV) (if they ask; otherwise “you do not have because you do not ask,” James 4:2 NKJV). If they ask, God does not reproach them but says, “it will be given to [them]” (James 1:5 NKJV).

Because the apostle adds, “Let him ask in faith,” some may object that this is not a direction to unbelievers (to seekers), to those who do not know the pardoning grace of God. I answer: The meaning of the word faith in this place is fixed by the apostle himself, as it were on purpose to halt this objection. The words immediately following are “nothing wavering, “without doubting. Not doubting but that God hears his prayer and will fulfill the desire of his heart; will grant him the grace, the wisdom for which he asks.

We must conclude, therefore, that scripture shows that all who desire the grace of God are to wait for it in the way of prayer.

*From How to Pray: The Best of John Wesley on Prayer, published by Barbour Publishing, Inc. Used by permission.

In this seventeenth lesson on prayer, Wesley continues his defense of prayer as a means of grace. He cites James 1:6 as a beginning scripture. Let us read James 1:2-8 for context: “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 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. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”  

Wesley takes a stance in this lesson that anyone, everyone, believer or not, can partake of God’s grace of wisdom by waiting on it in prayer, with faith, to the One “who gives to all generously and without reproach.” The bulk of this lesson is a rebuttal to those who think otherwise. “Because the apostle adds, ‘Let him ask in faith,’ some may object that this is not a direction to unbelievers (to seekers), to those who do not know the pardoning grace of God. I answer: The meaning of the word faith in this place is fixed by the apostle himself, as it were on purpose to halt this objection. The words immediately following are “nothing wavering, “without doubting. Not doubting but that God hears his prayer and will fulfill the desire of his heart; will grant him the grace, the wisdom for which he asks.”

Currently, many Muslims, who do not believe in the deity of Jesus Christ, are calling out to Him to reveal Himself to them if, indeed, He is real and alive. Jesus is answering many of them in dreams and visions throughout the Middle East. They are not meeting with God’s reproach, but with His love and mercy toward them.

How many of us have sought God without fully knowing God? How many of us have called on the Jesus of the cross, without fully knowing what that cross cost Him and without fully knowing what that cross made available to us? Did God reproach us because we sought Him? No. It was His prevenient, or preceding grace that gave us cause to seek Him in the first place. It was God’s grace already working in us that allowed us to seek His grace. It was God’s wisdom already working in us that allowed us to seek even more of His wisdom.

Wesley shows in this lesson his conviction of the broad strokes of God’s prevenient grace toward man that lead to the narrow way and strait gate of salvation.

Published by doctorpaddy

An ordained minister, Christian communicator, and educator.

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