The Lost Art of Taking Him at His Word
“The habit of regularly reminding the Lord of His promises to us in prayer will bring vitality to our prayer lives and increase our faith.”
A Conversation with Tom Yeakley:
Q: The subtitle of your book is “The Lost Art of Taking Him at His Word.” Why is this a lost art?
Up until World War I and the Depression, praying over God’s promises was an everyday thing for Christians in the U.S. Coupled with the rise of liberalism in Christianity and a loss of confidence in the Bible as God’s Word, we lost that focus on God’s promises and prayer.
Prayer is a huge part of our Navigator heritage. Dawson Trotman [the founder of The Navigators] and Lila based their lives on God’s promises and praying to see Him fulfill those promises. Now, we can be Dawson and Lila for someone else as we model believing and trusting the promises of God.
Q: This is a re-release of the book—how has your understanding of praying over God’s promises changed and grown throughout the seasons of your life?
I originally wrote the book in the early 1990s when my wife, Dana, and I were serving in Indonesia. It was written to provide a different perspective to the prosperity theology that was prevalent in our area. If people didn’t see their prayers for health and wealth answered, then the problem was said to be with them; they didn’t have enough faith or had unconfessed sin in their lives. This teaching damaged many people’s faith.
Initially we can learn to pray over the promises by praying for concrete, specific things. When we see God answering these prayers, it gives us confidence to ask for more—for the Gospel to reach the lost, for our lives to be used to disciple others.
God gives us promises as anchors for our faith. He knows we have doubts and anxiety. The promises are there, backed by His power and character, to strengthen us when the enemy comes. Over time, as our faith develops, it is not the promise we focus on but the Promiser.
Q: Why do you think more Christians don’t engage in pleading the promises or in praying an “impossible list” as you describe in the book?
We are impatient. We pray for something for a week and give up or go on to something else. In Luke 18 before Jesus tells the parable of the widow coming before the judge, we read this: “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up” (Luke 18:1).
Sometimes the answer God gives is no. In Gethsemane, Jesus made a very specific request to His Father, asking three times if there was any way other than the cross. His Father said no. Jesus, God’s perfect sinless Son, was told no by His loving heavenly Father. We, too, should not be surprised if our loving, heavenly Father says no to some of our prayer requests.
Q: Your book pre-supposes that people know God’s promises. How do prayer and the study of God’s Word go hand-in-hand?
In order to pray over a promise, we have to know the promise, which comes through our study of the Scriptures. This is true from the beginning of our relationship with God. Eternal life comes by applying faith to a promise. In 1 John 2:25 we read, “And this is what he promised us—eternal life.”
Then as we grow as disciples, we apply faith to the promises that we learn by studying the Scriptures and interacting with God. In the appendix of the book I list 20 different categories of promises to give people a place to start in their prayers.
Tom Yeakley serves as a U.S. Field Director; he gives oversight to NavMissions, International Student Ministries, and Nations Within. Tom is also the author of Growing Kingdom Character: Practical, Intentional Tools for Developing Leaders.
Buy Praying Over God’s Promises today at Navpress.com or call Tyndale House toll free 855-277-9400.