[T]here are various ways to claim the promises of God.
There is the Jack Horner approach. What is the Jack Horner approach to claiming God’s promises?
“Little Jack Horner sat in the corner.” What was he doing? “Eating Christmas pie.” And what happened? “He stuck in his thumb and pulled out a plum and said what a good boy am I.”
There are all kind of ways that people attempt to study the Bible like that.
You thumb thru the Bible, find your favorite quotes and promises, and then pull them out of their context, and say “what a good boy am I” while trying to use these promises in a self-centered way to try to jack yourself up.
We don’t want to use God’s promises like Jack Horner did where we search to find those juicy biblical plums that talk about peace and joy, and try to use them to support our self centered lives.
So don’t just look for those promises that give you a sense of comfort and joy so you can feel better about your life and circumstances.
Instead, the biblical way of claiming God’s promises is to take a particular promise that exalts Jesus and gives glory to God.
For example, take a promise of God like the one in Romans 15:13. That is a great one.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”
That is a great and glorious promise abounding in hope so that God receives all the glory as we build our lives on His promises through faith in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.
And the context of this great promise is that of missions.
The joy, peace and hope are promises that are going somewhere; it is a great missionary promise about this God of hope who abounds in hope. It is a promise that is to be shared with others who need both hope and the God of abounding hope.
If you get up in the morning and you memorize this promise, it will help you get to know the kind of a God you are meeting with, what quality of hope He intends you to have, and why He wants you to have that hope.
You can you ask for the Spirit’s help so you can claim this promise, and He will give you peace in believing that Jesus is alive; that He is at work and has a purpose for you.
Rather than sitting in the corner keeping God’s promises to yourself like Little Jack Horner, this is the Bible’s way of claiming God’s promises for His glory.
The little Jack Horner approach is an approach in which you are trying to get God to conform to your problems and to give you comfort rather than conforming your life and problems to God.
The Bible’s way of claiming the promises of God is for you to have a vision of God: who He is, what He is, where He is going, and what He is doing in you and in the world.
And so then, in the morning, the [basic] structure of your prayer is that you spend enough time for you to get into fellowship with God.
While you are in this fellowship with God in prayer, the Spirit will help you see more clearly how to claim God’s promises in the way the Bible intends for them to operate in your life.
Isn’t that exciting for Christians? Doesn’t that give you great confidence in God and His promises?
We tend to be so self-centered, we can even turn claiming His promises into ways of getting Him to serve us.
The great difficulty with the little Jack Horner approach to claiming the promises of God is that your comforter is far too small.
There is really no program or vision for claiming the promises that warrants you waking up in the morning yearning for fellowship with God.
When we use a Jack Horner approach to claiming God’s promises, what is typical is that our program for God’s help centers on our survival: How can I survive one more day? How can I survive one more morning? How can I survive one more set of bills at the first month?
And this is where the devil wants to keep you.
But God, through His promises, wants to give you a bigger purpose and greater vision for His glory, His holiness, His love, His grace, His mission, His joy, His peace, and His hope.
So what you do then, in the morning each day as part of your prayer, is that you ask the Holy Spirit to show you where those things are in your life that are taking you out of fellowship with God and His purposes?
It is also a good idea to ask for the Spirit’s help to make a list of those things you think you are going to be afraid of as you partner with God today.
And as you make this list of things you can’t handle (e.g., if God calls you to share your faith to someone, or to love a person at work you really dislike, to turn from some sin, to repent to your wife, ask forgiveness of your children, etc.), then you pray and ask God to help you with each one of these specific fears ahead of time.
And the whole point is that you begin to see that prayer is fellowship with God as you claim His promises, and prayer actually begins to be structured into your daily life.
Before long, you will wonder how you ever managed life without this prayerful fellowship with God claiming His promises.
Paraphrase of Jack Miller by Mike Graham