Prayer Misconceptions: We Need to Remind God of His Promises
God does not need to be reminded of His promises. He made promises and bound Himself to us in a blood-sealed covenant so that we would know exactly what we could expect from Him. The purpose of His promises is to give us confidence and peace. Instead, sometimes we pray as if we are responsible for finding the scriptural promise that can be construed as guaranteeing the outcome we have prescribed, then taking that promise to God to hold Him to His Word.
This kind of pray-er treats God's Word as if it is a catalog. He decides what God should do, looks through the Bible to find a verse that will match his plan, and orders it. In doing so, as in catalog shopping, the pray-er skims over everything that holds no appeal. He picks and chooses.
Remember, Scripture is not God's words; it is God's Word. Scripture is a whole and cannot be cut apart and pasted together to match my agenda. His Word is not a catalog. It is His promise in writing.
When we approach prayer this way—as if God might try to get out of meeting our need, but since we have His promise, we can hold Him to it—once again, energy is spent in the wrong direction. What a burden it is for me to search the Scripture and find exactly the right verse to bring to God's attention. Instead, as I turn my heart and my mind toward Him, He reminds me of His promises. He reminds me of what I can count on. The promises are not for me to use in getting my way with God, but they are for God to use to inspire faith and confidence within me.
I know there are sentences in Scripture which some have interpreted to mean that we are to remind God of His promises. For example, “Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope. My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life” (Ps. 119:49-50). This word translated “remember” means to put a mark on something so you can find it again. In our day, it would be like highlighting text on a page to make it stand out, to emphasize it. Certainly David was not fearful that God had forgotten His word.
Now let’s look at an incident in which it appears that the petitioner was reminding God of His promises. Right now, read 2 Chronicles 20:1-29 and take note of Jehoshophat’s prayer. Notice that it sounds as if he is reminding God.
Let’s dissect that some. Jehoshaphat came before the Lord to inquire of Him and to seek help from Him. The promises of God and the past faithfulness of the Lord began to fill Jehoshaphat’s mind. What sounded like the petitioner reminding God, was really God reminding the petitioner. Notice who Jehoshaphat’s faith and boldness grew with each declaration of God’s promises. God was building a foothold for his faith.
God is watching over His Word to see that it is carried out, according to Jeremiah 1:12. Every word He has spoken and every promise He has made live forever and are settled in the heavens. Rather than working to find a promise of which you can “remind” God, instead be still and let God remind you.
Adapted from Live a Praying Life by Jennifer Kennedy Dean.
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