A promise is assurance that one will act as specified. The Bible is filled with promises to encourage us in our walk as Christians, and these promises cover every area of life. There are conditions surrounding some of the promises, so before we claim one, we need to read and re-read to make sure we understand the promise and its requirements, if any.
There are many promises that start with ‘If.’ For example, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land”(2 Chr 7:14). If we don’t follow what He commands, He is not going to fulfill the promises.
By claiming promises erroneously, we are putting words in God’s mouth; we are holding Him accountable for something He has not promised us. The result then becomes disappointment, thinking God has not honored His Word. Clearly, He is not going to do something he has not promised just because someone is claiming it. The promises He fulfills are the ones He’s spelled out and where the conditions, if any, have been met by the claimer.
For example, look at this promise: “I will be with you always.” What does it mean? First, I’ll tell you what it does not mean. It doesn’t mean everything will go well, or that there will be no problems. It does however mean He will be with you no matter what is going on. “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you… The flames won’t set you ablaze” (Isa 42:2). This promise clearly implies problems, with the certainty of God’s presence. So don’t claim promises He hasn’t made.
Also, when you go to God with a request, make sure you call your need by name, because calling it by any other name could make it difficult for you to see the answers. For example, if you ask God for a car, what you are really asking for is the ability to be able to get around. If He responds by providing you with somebody to give you a ride, or if He puts you on a bus route, would you consider that an answer to your prayer? Probably not! Because what you really wanted was a car with the title in your name. So if you need transportation, ask for transportation, and if God decides you need a car in your name, He will provide you with one.
The other promise we love to claim is, “Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete” (Jn 16:24b). What does this promise mean? Does it mean we can ask for anything? I don’t think so. When Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, He prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.” Then He concluded by saying, “Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Mt 26:39b). This prayer is an indication that we need to take God’s will into account. If what we request is against God’s will, we can forget it. So we need to find God’s will about issues before asking, because He will not grant anything contrary to His will.
Also, God doesn’t always tell us the duration of assignments, so don’t assume your job, relationships, etc. are for a lifetime. He can redirect you as He sees fit, at any time. You could be devastated if you get too comfortable and He redirects you. But always remember redirection is okay, because, “In all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have called according to His purpose” (Rom 8:28). Let’s not hold on too tightly to our assignments! For example, when Moses was asked to go bring the Israelites from Egypt, he did not have details. I am sure he assumed he was going to get them into the Promised Land, but that is not what happened.
Let’s claim promises with care!