If you need wisdom—if you want to know what God wants you to do—ask him, and he will gladly tell you. He will not resent your asking.  But when you ask him, be sure that you really expect him to answer, for a doubtful mind is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.  People like that should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.  They can't make up their minds. They waver back and forth in everything they do.
James has just put trials into perspective. They help build us and shape our character. If we are going to get through trials and live well we need to know what to do. We need wisdom. The American Heritage Dictionary defines wisdom as “The ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting; insight.” Wisdom gives us the ability to figure out what to do.
Wisdom is not the same as the answer. When I look up the Scripture references that use the same Greek word they all indicate a more general type of wisdom. So when we are looking for wisdom we are not necessarily expecting God to come and say, ‘pick the blue one.’ God teaches us how to figure that out. He shows us the path to figuring out what to do. He will use his own methods to tell us what to do.
At first glance James seems to be condemning doubt in general. The thing to keep in mind here is that James is talking about praying for wisdom. He is not talking about praying for healing, provision, rescue or anything else. He is talking about wisdom in this passage.
If I am a Christian does it not make sense that I would expect God to guide me? There is something larger here than an answer to prayer. Remember that the other gods available were idols. They did not answer prayer. People who worshipped idols would not expect answers would they? And if people do not expect the Living God to guide them they will not wait on the Lord.
I believe that the people that should not expect anything from the Lord as James says are people that do not expect God to intervene in their lives. Does this mean we should expect specific things? Of course not. But if we do not believe that God will guide us there is pretty much no point in being a Christian is there?
I seem to be pointing the finger at others. In some respects I am. It really bugs me when people will only be ‘Christian’ to the point where they might have to change something about their life. However I know that I do not always expect that God will guide me. Worse I forget to ask for guidance. Lately I have struggled with that most at work.
For some reason I got it in my head that God didn’t care about my work. I don’t work in any kind of caring profession (doctor, nurse, social worker, pastor.) I would not have realized I thought that until I figured out that I was acting as if God didn’t care about the work I did. I mean would God really care about the project I was working on getting done (or not getting done?) Would God give me the wisdom to make good decisions about my work?
In addition I often find myself doubting whether I have been given guidance from God or not. Yes it can be difficult to know whether something is coming from God. But if I have asked for wisdom I need to believe that God is giving it to me. I waste too much energy trying to figure out if something I have asked for wisdom on is from God. I need to believe that God is telling me what to do (and that if I mess up after earnestly seeking Him he will protect me.)