C.S. Lewis had an interesting definition of faith. He wrote: “Now faith… is the art of holding on to things your reason once accepted, in spite of your changing moods. For moods will change, whatever your reason takes. I know that by experience. Now that I am a Christian, I do have moods in which the whole thing looks very improbable, but when I was an atheist I had moods in which Christianity looked terribly probable. This rebellion of moods against your real self is going to come anyway. That is why Faith is such a necessary virtue: unless you teach your moods “where to get off,” you can never be either a sound Christian or even a sound atheist, but just a creature dithering to and fro, with its beliefs really dependant on the weather and the state of its digestion.”
James would support this definition. He says that if we lack wisdom we are to ask of God… but to ask in faith without doubting. His word for doubting literally means vacillating… to dispute with oneself. It is the same Greek word used by Paul to describe the faith of Abraham in Romans 4:20. “…with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith.” Now we know that this did not mean that Abraham never doubted. He went to Egypt to escape a famine. He took another woman to try to fulfill God’s promise of an heir. He doubted at times, but he never wavered in unbelief. His die was cast. He was going to follow the Lord to the end and receive what God had promised him.
Like Abraham we may experience doubt from time to time in our weak state, that is understandable, but James wants us to understand that we must have a basic consistency in our purpose and direction. To ask God for wisdom, and to do so without faith… is like imitating drift wood in the Atlantic… akin to living like a double agent deep in one’s soul, like becoming as Lewis described: “a creature dithering to and fro.” That person will not, James asserts, receive anything from the Lord.