Why Asking for Wisdom Requires Faith

God offers wisdom to help us through trials—but we must trust him.

“But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is
like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.”
(James 1:6 ESV)

“Let me clarify that statement.”

We’ve heard people say that before, right? James seems to say that in verse six. After commanding believers to ask God for wisdom in their trials, he lays out a qualification on the ask. It must be done in faith, with no doubting. In other words, he seems to be saying, don’t ask God for help if you don’t believe he can do it or will do it.

James used the general Greek word for faith which means belief to the extent of complete trust and reliance. Doubting implies wavering or thinking that something might not be true. The believer who asks God for wisdom in their trials must believe God is going to help them. Why? James provided the answer with two illustrations. The first is found in verse six.

James said doubters are unstable. They are like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. Floating on a pool raft on the ocean is an image that comes to mind. The experience is literally up and down with no control over direction or movement. Sometimes a wave comes along, dislodges the one on the raft, and hurls them into the water. Chaos floods the brain with every flip and tumble as attempts are made to regain footing.

This is a picture of instability. The one who doubts when they pray is unstable like this.

Global missions can also be like the waves of the sea. Ministries can change with the blowing of the wind, often without warning. Missionaries and national church leaders in Ukraine experienced this with the recent Russian invasion. War is a terrible trial. Some missionaries left. Some stayed. Most, if not all, the national pastors stayed. These decisions, combined with the war itself, created physical, emotional, and spiritual suffering. They need wisdom to move forward.

Thankfully, our Sovereign God is still at work. He possesses all the wisdom to help these folks move forward. James said that when you lack wisdom for your trial, ask God—he will give it. But ask in faith. Believe that he will do his work. Then watch him work and rejoice.


“Heavenly Father, I ask that you grow my faith and remove my doubt. I believe in my head that you can give me wisdom when I need it. But help to believe it with my heart when I pray.”

Prayer requests for Ukraine:

  1. Pray for the Ukrainians displaced from their homes and scattered to other regions.
  2. Pray for missionaries and national church leaders as they bring Jesus’ love and the gospel to those displaced.
  3. Pray for God to send more workers to Ukraine.
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Bobby Hile

Bobby Hile was ABWE’s Director of Long-Term Mobilization. Prior to that, he served for 9 years as a senior pastor in Ohio and for almost 20 years with ABWE as a missionary in South Africa.