One of the most wonderful and hope-producing facets of the Bible is the number of promises made by God. There are so many promises in the Bible that no one can give the exact number. The guestimate ranges from 3000 to 7000 promises.
Do you know what that tells us?
God loved us so much that He took the time to reassure, comfort, and give us hope.
As members of the family of God, one of our greatest privileges is to claim God’s promises. But what does it mean to claim a promise from God? Do all the promises of the Bible apply to us? I hope to answer all these questions and more as we study the promises of God in the Bible.
What Are the Promises of God?
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I know you’re eager to learn more about God’s promises and understand how you can claim them. But before we even start to think about claiming a promise, let us understand what the word “promise” really means.
What is a promise?
The Oxford Dictionary defines the word promise in the following ways:
- a declaration or assurance that one will do something or that a particular thing will happen.
- assure someone that one will definitely do something or that something will happen.
- give good grounds for expecting (a particular occurrence).
So in other words, a promise is a declaration that something will definitely happen. This suggests a few things:
- That the one who promises has the ability to do the thing that is being promised
- The one who promises has the power to control the outcome of the situation to fulfill his word
- The promise-maker is truthful and is faithful to keep his word.
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When I read the definition of a promise, I understood why so many people break their word–they don’t have ultimate control over the outcome of a situation or they were not honest enough to do as they had pledged.
Oh, I’m not excusing anyone who makes a promise and doesn’t keep it (especially when it’s done deliberately) but I understand now why the Bible says to “let your yes be yes and your nay be nay” in Matthew 5:37.
It’s best to avoid making pledges because we’re not always going to be able to see them through to fruition.
What does a promise mean in the Bible?
There are two main words that are translated as “promise” in the Bible. The Hebrew word dâbar, (pronounced daw-bar) and the Greek word epangelía, (pronounced ep-ang-el-ee’-ah). Let’s look at each word in turn.
Dâbar could also have been translated “to arrange, to speak, declare, or command”, whereas epangelía could also mean “an announcement or message”. It was sometimes used when talking about a promised blessing or some divine assurance.
When God makes a promise, He’s making a declaration that something will take place or He’s commanding an action to be done.
Does God Keep His Promises?
If you’re like most people alive, you’ve wondered, Can God fail in His promises? After all, mankind is made in God’s image and so many of us fail to do what we said we would do. But the humanity we know is the result of sin–not the perfect creations God had made. We no longer reflect His image perfectly and so we should not expect God to behave as we do.
God is not like us. He has no reason to tell a lie. If He says He’s going to do something, He will. He doesn’t change his mind. And that’s why we know that when He makes a promise, He keeps it (Numbers 23:10 GW).
I know how easy it is to doubt the promises of God but, my friend, God always keeps His promises. Earlier, I hinted that a person who makes a promise has the power to keep the promise made. That’s one of the key reasons God’s promises cannot fail:
God cannot fail in His promises because of who He is is.
When God makes a promise, we can rest assured that He can bring it to pass because He is:
Any promise God makes He has the ability to bring it to pass, the knowledge to understand the best time for its fulfillment. He’s everywhere all at once so you’ll never be so far away from Him that He cannot keep His promise.When God makes a promise, you can trust that He has the ability and the power to fulfill it. #promisesofGod #hebrews12endurance Click To Tweet
His promises are true because He is Truth and cannot lie. He does not change (Malachi 3:6). God remains faithful even when we prove to be faithless (2 Timothy 2:13).
The promises of God are yes and amen
In 2 Corinthians 1:20, the apostle Paul said these words:
For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us (NKJV).
Paul wanted his listeners to understand that all the promises of God as it related to the Messiah and the blessing of Israel had been fulfilled in the person of Christ. But this is not the first time in Scripture that someone affirmed that God’s promises are true. Before he died, Joshua could say these words,
“And now I am about to go the way of all the earth, and you know in your hearts and souls, all of you, that not one word has failed of all the good things that the Lord your God promised concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one of them has failed” (Joshua 23:14 ESV).
King Solomon was also able to say,
Blessed be the LORD who has given rest to his people Israel, according to all that he promised. Not one word has failed of all his good promise, which he spoke by Moses his servant (1 Kings 8:56 ESV).
Since God never changes, we can remain confident that whatever He says He will do, will be done. When the Bible says the “promises of God are yes and amen”, it is an exuberant affirmation that God has faithfully kept every promise He had made concerning the nation of Israel.
The book of Matthew does a great job of showing all the promises concerning the Messiah that were fulfilled. Take some time to read the book of Matthew using a cross-reference to see how the prophecies of the Old Testament were fulfilled in the life of Christ.
Claiming the Promises of God
Now that we understand what promises are and how God is uniquely equipped and qualified to keep His promises, let’s get on to the business of claiming the promises of God.
Do the promises of God in the Bible apply to us?
God’s promises fall into three categories
- promises made to a specific person or in a specific situation
- promises made to all of God’s people
- promises that speak to the character and nature of God.
When promises are made to a specific person, such as the promise in Genesis 12:1-2, we are not able to claim them. But when a promise is made to all of God’s people or speaks to the nature of God, we can claim those promises.
Conditional versus Unconditional Promises
As we attempt to claim the word of God, we have to understand that the promises of God in the Bible fall into two categories. They are either conditional or unconditional.
- Conditional promises require some action or behavior from the person to whom the promise is made before it can be fulfilled.
- Unconditional promises do not require anything from the recipient of the promise. It is bestowed freely by the promise-keeper.
Praying the Promises of God
As I did this study on the promises of God, I asked God to show me one example from Scripture of someone who prayed His promises back to Him. One of the first examples the Spirit revealed to me was Daniel. I encourage you to read the full prayer in Daniel 9:1-19 though I’ll summarize the story for you here.
Daniel had lived in Babylon most of his life when he realized that the 70 years God had told the Israelites they would be exiled from Jerusalem had passed. Yet, they were still in captivity living far away from their beloved land. Daniel sought the Lord in prayer and prayed His promises back to Him.
There are four main elements to Daniel’s prayer:
- Confession (Daniel 9:5-14)
- Praise (Daniel 9:7, 9, 15)
- Worship (Daniel 9:4)
- Petition (Daniel 9:17-19)
Daniel confessed the sins of his people and sought forgiveness for them. He praised God and worshipped Him for who He is. Then he pleaded with God to deliver His people. As you read Daniel’s prayer, you’ll notice that all four elements are mingled in with each other. Daniel wasn’t following a formula, he was just pouring his heart out to God.
10 Steps to Claim the Promises of God
Now we’re finally ready to claim God’s promises (I know it has been a journey but we can’t claim what we don’t understand. Thank you for bearing with me. Here are the steps.)
1. Accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
If you don’t acknowledge Jesus Christ as the Son of God and believe that God is Sovereign over all things and people, you don’t have the right to claim any of God’s promises.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me (John 14:6 NKJV).
2. Confess your sins.
Sin separates us from God and closes us off from His promises. If you want any part in His promises, you have to confess your sins with a truly repentant heart.
Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened,
That it cannot save;
Nor His ear heavy,
That it cannot hear.
But your iniquities have separated you from your God;
And your sins have hidden His face from you,
So that He will not hear.
For your hands are defiled with blood,
And your fingers with iniquity;
Your lips have spoken lies,
Your tongue has muttered perversity (Isaiah 59:1-3 NKJV).
3. Believe that His promises are true.
A key part of claiming a promise is believing that God is able to deliver on His promises.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:1, 6 NKJV).
4. Evaluate your need.
There are thousands of God’s promises in the Bible, which one are you going to claim? Before you go to God asking Him to keep His Word, figure out what your need is and how you want God to move in your life. Search the Scriptures and write down the promises you think are applicable to your situation.
5. Is the Bible promise one you can claim?
Remember that some promises apply to a specific person or situation. Does the context of the promise apply to you? In Genesis 12:1-2, God made a specific promise to Abraham. This is not one we can claim because the context doesn’t apply to us.
6. Are there conditions that have to be met first?
Is the promise a conditional one? What are the conditions? Can you meet them? A lot of promises are if…then statements, 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 I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14 NKJV, emphasis added).
7. Will the fulfillment of the promise bring glory to God?
This is a major point. Who is going to be glorified if God fulfills His promise to you? Sometimes we ask for things for selfish reasons–reasons that do not glorify God and in fact, bring shame to Him.
8. Is it according to God’s will?
We can ask God to fulfill our needs, but remember that promises, like prayers, are answered according to God’s will.
9. Have faith while you wait.
Promise claiming is a faith-building business. As you pray the promises of God, you have to believe that God is capable and willing to answer your prayer.
“If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it” (John 14:14 NASB).
10. Be patient.
This is probably the hardest part. You have to allow God to answer your prayer in His time. Since God knows everything, He also knows the best time to fulfill the promise that you’re claiming. Learn to wait on God’s perfect timing.
Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! (Psalm 27:14 ESV)
11. Bonus step: worship.
While you’re waiting on your promise, remember to worship. You may get discouraged that the promise may never come to pass, remember that even if God chooses not to fulfill the promise you’re claiming, He’s still God and He’s worthy to be praised.While you're waiting on your promise, remember to worship. Whatever happens, God is still God. #hebrews12endurance Click To Tweet
Promises We Can Claim
I hope these steps point you in the right direction to start praying the Word of God back to Him. If you’re looking for some ideas of Scripture promises to claim, here are several ideas:
Promises when you need strength
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9 ESV).
The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him (Psalm 28:7 ESV).
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. (Ephesians 6:10 ESV).
Promises when you’re going through trials and tribulation
But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one (2 Thessalonians 3:3 ESV).
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it (1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV).
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold (Psalm 18:2 ESV).
Promises when you need His peace
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid (John 14:27 ESV).
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30 ESV).
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you (Isaiah 26:3 ESV).
Promises when you feel alone
For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me in (Psalm 27:10 ESV).
Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you (Psalm 139:7-12 ESV).
Promises when you need forgiveness
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me (Psalm 51:10-11 ESV).
“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool” (Isaiah 1:18 ESV).
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9 ESV).
Promises when you need wisdom or guidance
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. (James 1:5-6 ESV).
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you (Psalm 32:8 ESV).
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV).
His Promises Are True
There are thousands of Bible promises, many of which can be claimed. I encourage you to search the Scriptures to find promises that suit your needs and begin to pray the promises of God back to Him.
But remember, we can’t “make” God do anything. Praying the promises in the Bible draw our hearts closer to God and puts us in communion with His. Have you ever claimed a Bible promise? What was the result? Which one of God’s promises will you be claiming next?
You may also like:
- 12 Scriptures to Encourage You to Have Faith in God
- God’s Promises in Genesis
- 3 Ways to Pray Like Jesus