“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does” (James 1:5-8).
When we pray, it’s important to believe the truth of what we are praying. Strongholds hinder our prayer life? When we believe a lie of the enemy, it’s hard to pray with faith. It’s hard to pray confident prayers when we believing thoughts like:
- God doesn’t love me.
- I can’t do anything right.
- I’m rejected by everyone, including God.
Strongholds strike at our identity in Christ. Satan will always try to defeat us in this area. If we believe that God doesn’t love us or care, how can we believe that He will answer our prayers? If we believe that we are rejected and a failure, how can we pray in faith about our destiny? Too many negative beliefs will cloud our prayer life.
When we believe a lie, we become double-minded in our prayer life. We become doubtful.
The Bible speaks about being double-minded in James 1:8 and 4:8. This is a theme throughout the entire book of James. The Greek word for “double-minded” is dipsuchos with dis meaning “twice” and psuche meaning “mind”. This describes a person who is divided in his loyalties, wavering, half-hearted and uncertain. Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary defines double-minded as having different minds at different times, being unsettled.
Are we the only ones who struggle between faith and doubt? Even biblical godly characters fell into double-mindedness. In Luke 7:19-20, John the Baptist was in prison and sent men to ask Jesus, “Are you the coming one, or do we look for another?” Imagine the struggle in your own mind if you were John in prison ready to be beheaded! John was human and the enemy’s strongholds and fiery darts assailed his mind just as they do ours. He began to sink into doubt in the crisis of the hour. But even in spite of this, Christ described him as greater than any prophet born before him (Luke 7:28).
Our strongholds hinder our prayers because we become double-minded—unsettled, wavering, half-hearted and uncertain in prayer when we believe a lie.
Double-mindedness in Prayer
“Faith gives birth to prayer. It grows stronger, strikes deeper, and rises higher in the struggle and wrestling of mighty petitioning. Faith is the substance of things hoped for (see Hebrews 11:1), the confidence and reality of the inheritance of the saints. Faith, too, is humble and persistent. It can wait and pray. It can stay on its knees or lie in the dust. It is the one great condition of prayer. The lack of it lies at the root of all poor, feeble, little, unanswered praying.”
When we are double-minded and unstable, we are indecisive and without faith in our prayers. Our motives can become self-centered instead of God-centered (James 4:3). We lose our confidence in prayer and in God. We may think, “Is God really for me? Can I really trust Him?”
It’s hard to believe the Bible and believe a lie of the enemy at the same time. We try to follow God’s plan for our lives, but at the same time we believe the enemy. We want to follow God’s Plan A, but we also have a Plan B that includes human reasoning and the enemy’s lies. This weakens our faith and our resolve. We can no longer pray in faith for Plan A when strongholds are pulling us down. The lies of the enemy are holding us captive. We become unstable. Then we often make decisions that are contrary to God’s plan.
When this happens it’s easy to fall back on our human reasoning, especially when things are hard. We doubt God’s Word. We doubt what He has told us about our lives.
The apostle Peter had a revelation that Jesus was the Christ, but when Jesus foretold how He would have to suffer crucifixion as a part of God’s will, Peter rebuked Him and said: “Never, Lord! This shall not happen to you!” But Jesus said:
“Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men” (Matthew 16:22-23).
Peter had Plan B in mind rather than God’s Plan A that involved Jesus’ death. With Plan B, we would never have known salvation!
So often we say we believe God’s Word, but we don’t live it out in daily life experience. We know it in our head, but our heart hasn’t taken hold of it. I’ve often heard it said that the greatest distance is between our head and our heart! If we don’t wholeheartedly believe what God says, it is hard to fully obey. Double-mindedness can creep into the way we hear God’s Word and obey it (James 1:22-25). We become unstable in our faith.
This affects our prayers. When we ask God for wisdom to know His will as in James 1:6-8, we must not doubt and become like the waves of the seas, blown and tossed by the wind. Then we shouldn’t think that we will receive anything from God, because we are double-minded, unstable in all that we do. Strongholds affect our actions in doing the will of God. Double-minded faith believes in God but not when it comes to action (James 2:14-17).
James says that faith without works is dead (James 2:18, 20). Belief is not enough. We can’t hear without doing what the Bible says. We become double-minded in our speech, in our prayers and in our actions (James 3:9-11). Out of the abundance of our heart the mouth speaks (Matthew 12:34).
I know what it’s like to feel driven and tossed by the wind.
I lived on the sea for many years as a young missionary. Actually the captain kept things pretty well under control, but I remember some rough seas. At times I would be filled with faith as I read God’s Word, but at other times I would look at the seas, and my faith would waver. I was double-minded. Fear and faith were fighting for my mind. I remember how uncomfortable it was to be double-minded. Doubt in God’s Word would try to take over, and sometimes I would depend on my own reasoning and listen to the lies of the enemy.
One of my strongholds was “Life isn’t safe!” It would try to overcome what I knew in God’s Word. There was an internal struggle going on. I would wrestle with trying to believe God’s Word and then with listening to my own human reasoning and the enemy’s fiery darts. I would say to myself:
- This ship was built in 1914.
- It’s too old to make it through these treacherous seas.
- Land is miles away, and I don’t even know how to swim!
- What if we start sinking?
But God’s Word says in Psalm 91:1-2, 9:
“He who dwells in the shelter of the most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust”… If you make the Most High your dwelling—even the Lord, who is my refuge—then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent.”
My faith was wavering because I was listening to the stronghold that the enemy had erected very early in my life. I had believed a lie, and my lack of trust in God was sin. In the center of that situation, I should have confessed the lie as sin, opened my Bible, and begun proclaiming and praying God’s Word out loud. This would have changed the fearful moments I encountered in turbulent weather into peaceful trust in God’s care and protection. I wish I knew then what I know now about breaking strongholds!
So many times I had the victory during very rough seas when I would simply put on my earphones, go out on deck, look straight at that ocean, and praise and worship God. This was some of my most memorable occasions. Fear would flee. Truth would invade my thoughts, and I would even feel better physically.
We have to be diligent and recognize these strongholds in our lives.
The walls of false beliefs and lies in our life must come down just like the walls of Jericho. God wants us to walk in His victory. We must pray God’s purposes for our lives and the lives of others. We must be diligent in praying God’s truth. Through prayer we will see strongholds demolished in our lives. God destroys them by His divine power, but we need to cooperate with Him. We must be very persistent in dealing with strongholds, because it takes a lifetime to enforce these lies. Therefore, it will take time to demolish them. Strongholds are stubborn. They’ve become a part of our lives; it’s hard to let them go. We must continue hearing God’s Word because faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17). We must continue speaking God’s Word. We must continue to obey in faith what we pray and speak. As we persist, we will have victory.
“We should pray without doubting, read God’s Word with great care, fellowship without bias, have faith while consistently keeping God’s law, and speak edifying words that inspire our friends to honor God. With single-minded attention to God’s will as shown in His Word, we can draw near to God and He will draw near to us.”
By Debbie Przybylski
Intercessors Arise International