Have you been discouraged as of late? For most of us, this past year has been overwhelming. If we are being quite honest, this past year has taken its toll on many of us. Is there any encouragement in the Word of God for us today? When all around us seems so dark and discouraging, is there any light at the end of this tunnel? What will give us strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow? My friend, we must go to the promises of God. God is a promise-keeping God. He not only makes promises, but He also keeps them. He has kept His promises in the past, and he will keep His promises in the future.
Our present circumstances often make it hard for us to believe that God will keep His promises, but there is a text that I pray will encourage your soul. Consider Joshua 21:45:
“Not one word of all the good promises that the LORD had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass.”
Now, this is a glorious passage! This text will give you the greatest hope in your darkest hour. Not one word of all that God has promised will fail. God is the Faithful One. All His promises will come to pass. In Joshua 1–21, we have been given a detailed account of the conquest under Joshua and the division of Canaan among God’s people. Specifically, Joshua 21:45 highlights the faithfulness of God in bringing His people into the promised land. Not one of God’s promises have failed. God is faithful.
Beholding the Promises of God
What do we do with the promises of God? By faith in Jesus Christ, we cling to these promises. The apostle Paul says: “if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise” (Gal. 3:29). In 2 Corinthians 1:29, Paul writes: “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him.” In prayer, we approach God through Christ, by the Spirit, with the promises of God in our hand. John Piper helpfully writes the following:
“Prayer is drawing on the account where God has deposited all his promises. Prayer is not hoping in the dark that there might be a God of good intentions out there. Prayer goes to the bank and draws on promises.”
The great Puritan, John Owen, saw the link between God’s promises and prayer. Owen writes:
“What God has promised, all that he has promised, and nothing else, are we to pray for … We are to pray in faith and faith respects God’s promises. If there we understand not what God has promised, we cannot pray at all.”
If we want to pray well, we must use what God has promised to us in His Word. We know that God is the faithful God who always keeps what He has promised. “Not one word of all the good promises that the LORD had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass” (Joshua 21:45). The promises of God, then, must be the fuel of our prayers. This method of praying the promises of God back to God, by faith in Jesus Christ, is not new. John Owen, the great Puritan, used this method of prayer! A dear mentor of mine taught me this method of prayer. In his book, Take Words With You, Tim Kerr writes:
“It is through the promises centered on Christ that faith springs to life and we ‘get in on’ what is promised. Faith is essential for getting hold of each promise and yet, mysteriously, each promise actually generates the confident faith that is required to take hold of it in prayer!”
Praying the Promises of God
To whet your appetite for praying the promises of God back to God, I want to give you a handful of promises that you can use in your prayer life. Open your Bible, find a promise that is fit for your circumstance, meditate on it, and pray it back to God in faith.
Are you anxious and afraid? Find a promise for peace! Meditate on this text and use it to shape your prayers:
“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation” (Isaiah 12:2).
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock” (Isaiah 26:3-4).
Do you feel alone? Find a promise of God’s presence:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior” (Isaiah 43:1-3).
“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).
Do you see the rich storehouse of God’s promises in His Word? Joshua reminds us that God is faithful to all His promises. He gives us promises in His Word, and He keeps them. Have you found a promise in God’s Word today? Cling to it! Pray it back to God. He always keeps His word. “Not one word of all the good promises that the LORD had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass” (Joshua 21:45).
 John Owen, The Works of John Owen, Vol. 4 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth), 275-276.
 We must be aware of the various contexts that the promises find itself in. For example, we must ask ourselves what is the historical, grammatical, theological context of this promise? Is it in the Old Covenant? Or New Covenant? How does it find its fulfillment in the person and work of Jesus Christ?