Believing And Praying God’s Promises
By Rich Carmicheal
At the heart of effective prayer is confidence that God is Who He says He is and that He will do what He promises to do. Those who would please God must come to Him in faith, and "must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him" (Heb. 11:6). We can be guilty of viewing Bible characters and other historical figures known for their great faith as exceptional people, but in reality, they were people who had the same sorts of struggles we have, but they rose above these and simply believed God and took Him at His Word.
Consider, for example, Nehemiah. When he received the news about the distress of God’s people and the broken down condition of Jerusalem, he acknowledged that he had been part of the problem: "…I am praying before Thee now…confessing the sins of the sons of Israel which we have sinned against Thee; I and my father’s house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against Thee and have not kept the commandments…" (Neh. 1:6-7). He also acknowledged that he was "very much afraid" (2:2) as he approached King Artaxerxes about allowing him to go to Jerusalem to rebuild it. And yet, he overcame guilt and fear because he set his sights beyond himself and turned to God and to His promises and power. He acknowledged God as the "Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who preserves the covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments" (1:5). He reminded the Lord of His promise to His people that "if you return to Me and keep My commandments and do them, though those of you who have been scattered were in the most remote part of the heavens, I will gather them from there and will bring them to the place where I have chosen to cause My name to dwell" (1:9).
In spite of how desperate the situation in Jerusalem was, Nehemiah believed that as he turned to God in prayer, God would be faithful to intervene according to His own promise. And though Nehemiah faced many challenges along the way, and even direct opposition, he continued to pray, putting all of his hope and confidence in God, and the Lord granted him all of the favor, provision and protection necessary to rebuild the walls.
Full Assurance in God
Or consider Abraham. Although a number of events in his life show that he was not perfect, he is nevertheless set apart as a central figure in God’s plans and purposes simply because he believed God. When God promised him a son and a nation of descendants, even though he was about a hundred years old and his own body as good as dead, and Sarah’s womb was also dead, "in hope against hope he believed...he did not waver in unbelief, but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what He had promised, He was able also to perform" (Rom. 4:18-21).
Trusting God on Behalf of Others
Ezra is another good example. As he was leading a large delegation of God’s people back to Jerusalem, including children and significant amounts of gold, silver and other possessions, he faced the very real threat of enemies and ambushes along the way. He was ashamed to ask the king for troops and horsemen to protect them from the enemies because he had told the king that "the hand of our God is favorably disposed to all those who seek Him, but His power and His anger are against all those who forsake Him" (Ezra 8:22). And so instead of turning to the king for help, Ezra "proclaimed a fast…that we might humble ourselves before our God to seek from Him a safe journey for us, our little ones, and all our possessions. …So we fasted and sought our God concerning this matter, and He listened to our entreaty" (Ezra 8:21, 23). They made the journey safely as God’s hand was over them, and He delivered them from the enemies and bandits (8:31).
Can you imagine the confidence that Ezra had to have had in the Lord? As the leader of this group, not only was he entrusting his own safety to the Lord, but the safety of many others, including the children. He was also entrusting to the Lord the security of all of the possessions, many of which were destined for the house of God. In other words, he was putting everything on the line because he believed that God would indeed protect them. God was honored as they humbly turned to Him in prayer and fasting, and as they moved forward in faith in Him.
Nothing Is Too Difficult for God
Jeremiah is still another example of those who are able to trust God in the most adverse conditions. When Jerusalem was under siege and about to be taken into captivity, the Lord told Jeremiah to buy a field and to place the deed in a jar to last a long time in order to symbolize that "Houses and fields and vineyards shall again be bought in this land" (Jer. 32:15). Even though God’s people were going into exile and it looked as if there was no hope for them, Jeremiah believed the word of the Lord that He would in time gather His people out of the foreign lands and bring them back to dwell safely in the land He had given to them. To show His confidence in God’s ability, he prayed, "Ah Lord God! Behold, Thou hast made the heavens and the earth by Thy great power and by Thine outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for Thee" (Jer. 32:17). In other words, God has the power to fulfill anything and everything that He promises!
"I Believe God"
Think also about the Apostle Paul during the terrible storm on the Adriatic Sea that threatened the lives of everyone aboard the ship bound for Rome. As the storm raged on and the men gradually gave up all hope of being saved, Paul was able to encourage them with these words: "For this very night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood before me, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar; and behold, God has granted you all those who are sailing with you’" (Acts 27:23-24). Paul went on to say, "Therefore, keep up your courage, men, for I believe God, that it will turn out exactly as I have been told" (v. 25).
"I believe God" – that is the key! Do you believe what God says to you? Perhaps you have never had an angel personally deliver God’s message to you, but consider the wealth of declarations and the "precious and magnificent promises" (2 Pet. 1:4) that God has made to you through His Word. Do you believe that God is everything He says He is and that He will do everything He promises to do?
No matter how difficult a situation is, whatever God promises to do, He will be faithful to do as we place our trust in Him. As Solomon was able to declare, "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 promised through Moses His servant" (1 Kgs. 8:56). God is always trustworthy, therefore we can with absolute certainty take Him at His Word.
Praying God’s Promises
One of the most precious gifts the Lord grants to us is the gift of prayer. James tells us that "the effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much" (Jas. 5:16). God calls us to prayer and even looks for those who will be faithful intercessors (Ezek. 22:30; Isa. 59:16). One of the most powerful ways we can pray is simply to pray God’s promises to Him. He is a God who hears and answers prayer, and He is searching for those today who will take Him at His Word and pray accordingly. "O You who hear prayer, to You all men will come…How blessed is the one whom You choose and bring near to You to dwell in Your courts…By awesome deeds You answer us in righteousness, O God of our salvation, You who are the trust of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest sea…" (Psa. 65:2-5).
There is desperate need today for intercessors such as Nehemiah, who recognized the great need around him, and who "sat down and wept and mourned for days…fasting and praying before the God of heaven" (Neh. 1:4), and who repented and reminded God of His wonderful promises to intervene on behalf of those who returned to Him (vv. 8-9). His confidence in God and in His Word, and his willingness to turn to the Lord in prayer on behalf of others, resulted in God’s blessing in many individuals and even the nation.
Who today, as they see the great need in the lives of others and of the nations, will turn to the Lord in earnest prayer? Who will intercede for others believing God’s promises to save, deliver, heal, restore, protect, provide, comfort, help, sanctify, strengthen and encourage? Who will ask the Lord to grant others mercy, repentance, light, joy, peace, hope and wisdom. God is able and eager to fulfill all of His promises in our lives and the lives of others through our prayers. Will you take Him at His Word and intercede accordingly?