James 1:5-7 Revisited: Nothing Doubting

We talked once about James 1:5-7 and how frightening it is that our prayers might not be answered because of a little doubt. What we determined was that the issue was not a little doubt that our prayers might be answered, but the issue is those who have not given themselves wholly over to God. Those doubters are double-souled because they can’t decide whether to follow God or not.

Here’s a confirmation of that idea that is over 1,800 years old. It’s from an unlikely source, The Shepherd of Hermas, which is known as a very harsh and demanding early Christian work. The passage that follows, however, seems remarkably kind and gives us a look at the merciful side of our Lord.

It also agrees with our conclusion in the previous post!

Put away doubting from you, and do not hesitate to ask of the Lord, saying to yourself, “How can I ask of the Lord and receive from him, since I have sinned so much against him?” Do not reason with yourself in this way, but turn to the Lord with all your heart and ask of him without doubting, and you will know the multitude of his tender mercies; that he will never leave you, but fulfill the request of your soul. He is not like men, who remember evils done against them. He does not remember evils and has compassion on his own creation. Cleanse, therefore, your heart from all the vanities of the world and from the words already mentioned and ask of the Lord and you will receive all. In none of your requests will you be denied, which you make to the Lord without doubting. But if you doubt in your heart, you will receive none of you requests, for those who doubt are double-souled and obtain not one of their requests. Those who are perfect in faith ask everything, trusting in the Lord, and they obtain because they ask nothing doubting, not being double-souled. …
   If at any time, after you have asked of the Lord, you are slower in obtaining your request, do not doubt because you have not soon obtained the request of your soul. Invariably, it is because of some temptation or some sin of which you are ignorant that you are slower in obtaining your request. Therefore do not cease to make the request of your soul, and you will obtain it. If you grow weary and waver in your request, blame yourself, and not him who did not give it to you. (Shepherd of Hermas. Commandment 9th. Ch. 1.)

About paulfpavao

I am a church historian and pastor, but I do occasionally play APBA baseball for fun.
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2 Responses to James 1:5-7 Revisited: Nothing Doubting

  1. then there’s James 3:11-4:6

    • paulfpavao says:

      James 3:11-4:6 would indeed make a good description of a double-souled person. I think that passage is a much better explanation of why doubters don’t get prayers answered than that God doesn’t answer prayer if we wonder about the answer to prayer. The Greek word for prayer means “ask,” and is it really asking if we claim to always know how God will answer?

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