Praying The Promises Of God
Frances Havergal was a famous hymn writer of old. She loved the Word of God and, more importantly, the God of the Word. She wrote many hymns, including the renowned hymn titled “Take My Life and Let It Be.” As she was dying at the early age of forty-three, Havergal asked a friend standing by her bed to read to her from the forty-second chapter of Isaiah.
When the friend read the sixth verse, “I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness; I have taken you by the hand and kept you….” Then she stopped her friend from reading any further. With a voice barely above a whisper, she said: “CALLED—HELD BY HIS HAND—KEPT. I can go home on that!” And she did go home on that as she closed her eyes and went home to be with her Savior. Havergal died as she lived—by trusting in the God who always keeps his promises.
Like her, we too should live our everyday life by trusting in this God of the Bible who will always keep his promises. Yet we forget this simple truth—especially when troubles overwhelm us. I recall reading one writer describing how an incident from John Bunyan’s great allegory, Pilgrim’s Progress, can remind us of the power of God’s promises to sustain us during tough times.
In this incident, the writer talks about how Christian decides to leave the main highway and follow another easier path. But this path led him into the territory of Giant Despair, who owned Doubting Castle. And that decision eventually led to Christian being captured by Giant Despair, who then kept him in a dungeon. Christian was advised to kill himself. Giant Despair kept saying there was no use trying to continue his journey. For the time being, it seemed as if Despair had really conquered Christian. But then, Hope, Christian’s companion, reminded him of previous victories.
So it came about that on Saturday, at about midnight, they began to pray and continued in prayer until almost morning. Now a little before it was day, good Christian, as one half-amazed, broke out in passionate speech, “What a fool am I thus to lie in a stinking Dungeon, when I may as well be at liberty. I have a Key in my bosom called Promise that will, I am persuaded, open any lock in Doubting Castle.” Then said Hopeful, “That’s good news. Good Brother, pluck it out of thy bosom and try.” And the prison gates flew open.
Doesn’t this story remind us that we, too, can open the gates of despair and be freed from it? And what’s the key that opens the gates of despair? God’s promises! By meditating on God’s promises and praying those promises back to him, we can overcome doubt and despair and live faithful lives.
I’ve read somewhere that there are approximately 8,810 promises in the entire Bible—7706 in the Old Testament and 1104 in the New Testament. Obviously, not all the promises apply to us. We must ensure we rightly understand what promises can be legitimately claimed for our lives and what was given at specific times for specific people. And that calls for diligent and careful interpretation. And then, we must learn to pray the appropriate promises back to God based on our current situation.
If you’ve never prayed God’s promises back to him [or even if you have], I hope the following 8 examples will help you prayerfully cling to God’s promises and be strengthened through challenging times.
1. Going through difficult circumstances
Psalm 23:4 “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
Lord, you have promised to be with me even when I go through deep dark valleys and near-death experiences. I am going through one right now. Please help me not to be afraid. Please help me to experience your presence and your protection. Help my troubled soul to be comforted.
2. Feeling abandoned by everybody
Psalm 27:10 “Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.”
Lord, I’m in this battle all alone—none by my side. Friends and even my own family seem to have rejected me. But you, Lord, will receive me. You will never abandon me even if I have significantly sinned but have sought your forgiveness. Please help me to know you have not forsaken me.
3. Battling Fear
Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Lord, I’m crippled by fear and discouragement. But you have commanded me not to fear. Please help me to believe you are with me. You are my God. You have promised to strengthen me and help me. You have promised to uphold me with your strong right hand. I am falling, Lord. I need you to sustain me. I need you to strengthen me. Please hear my cry.
4. Fear of Old Age
Isaiah 46:4 “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”
Lord, I fear old age. I’m afraid who will look after me. I fear being a burden to others. But you have promised to sustain me. You made me, and you know my body. Sustain me, Lord. Calm my fears. Please help me to experience the assurance that you, the One who made me, will carry me throughout my life.
5. Fear of Evangelism
Matthew 28:18-20 “18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Lord, you have commanded me to evangelize all people. You have promised to be with me always. Yet, I am terrified at times to even open my mouth. Please help me to open my mouth and share the gospel with this person.
6. Going through financial struggles
Philippians 4:19 “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”
Lord, I am in deep trouble financially, as you know. The bills are piling up, and I don’t have enough money coming in. Creditors are pressuring me. My family is pressuring me. But, Lord Jesus, you have promised to meet my needs out of your abundant and glorious resources. Please help me, Lord. Please provide for my needs.
7. Fear that God will bring up past sins after they’ve been confessed
Hebrews 8:12 “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
Lord, even though I have confessed my sins, my conscience keeps bringing up those sins again and again. Please help me believe you have genuinely forgiven my sins and promised never to bring them up against me. Heal my heart, Lord.
8. Struggling to overcome greed and be content with what we have
Hebrews 13:5-6 “5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” 6 So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”
Lord, you have commanded me to be content with what you have given me and not run after more money. Still, I seem to want more things. I fear about finances, Lord. Please help me to remember that you will never leave me. You will never forsake me. Help me to experience confidence in my heart that you are my helper. I don’t need to be afraid despite what the media or people say. I don’t need to fear if my finances are not strong. You are my helper.
I hope these few examples of how God’s promises can be turned back into prayer petitions will encourage you to develop a deeper trust in the God of the Bible, who will always keep his promises. In the Lord Jesus, all of God’s promises are fulfilled [2 Cor 1:20]. As we keep bowing to the kingship of the Lord Jesus in our daily lives, we can face all challenges with the enabling power of the Holy Spirit and pray God’s precious promises back to him in faith.
In the end, all will end well for those who have become God’s children through faith in Jesus Christ—even if that means we suffer to the point of losing our lives for Jesus’s sake in this world. So, let’s cling to his rich and sure promises and turn them into prayers as we faithfully complete our brief journey through this temporary world!
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