James 1:6-8 “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.”
In New Testament times, "double-minded" literally meant going to another temple and offering sacrifices to another god. So someone who was worried about safely giving birth prayed to Jesus – and Artemis. Others would pray in church that their crops would do well – and then sacrifice to Zeus.
It was a way of saying, “I don’t fully believe that God is the ultimate answer. I better make a Plan B. God might not be able to come through on this one.”
This is not the same as going to the doctor when in labor or working hard so that crops succeed – those are ways and means God Himself has built into the world through which His will can be accomplished. Paul tells Timothy to drink some wine for his stomach problems; Luke was a physician.
The believer must ask, literally, "in no way at variance with oneself"; not "double-minded" (1:8) "like the surf of the sea. . ." (1:6). Prayer needs to be unwavering, committed to Christ over any other options. The believer who is double-minded asks God for help, but makes a back-up plan with another god.
This is like saying:
- “God help me be content is in Christ” – but you follow the best temptations the world has to offer just in case God doesn’t come through.
- “God, meet my needs” – but you’re a workaholic so you can accumulate things.
- “God, heal my loneliness” – but you pursue bad relationships.
- “God, help me love purity” – but you won’t put that filter on your computer.
- “God, I know only you can save me” – but you look to your spouse, or your friends, or your family to fix all your problems and give your life meaning and purpose.