“That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel.” (Ephesians 3:6)
This verse makes it clear that God’s promises, until the advent of the Church, were almost exclusively given to the nation of Israel, His chosen. But this and other verses in the New Testament make it also clear that you and I as believers have been added to the will and may claim our own place in its reading.
Having laid this first premise, I would contend, as well, that while there are general promises God makes to all His children, there are others that are lifted from their generality (or should I say, specificity) to speak to a need or situation in the life of one of His children at some particular point in his or her life.
For instance, the promise of salvation to all who call upon His name is a general one, the only condition being repentance and faith. But when God, of whom it is said, “[He] will have all men to be saved” (1Tim.2:4), gives us faith and direction to lay hold of this verse on behalf of someone else, this is something else altogether. In an instance such as this there are two things to keep in mind, I think. If my inclination is overwhelming desire and not Divine compulsion, it’s an exercise in futility. And because salvation begins and ends with God, one way or the other, my prayer has no redemptive quality. It does, however, give me assurance that I was in tune with His will in this particular instance.
I said all that to say this: I believe there are times in the life of a believer when the Spirit of God compels him or her to lay claim on a promise in the Word of God, regardless of its setting. I’m not talking about everyday needs; I’m speaking of extraordinary occasions. In such a case, the prayer and the answer are so individual that no matter who else may be involved, we are keenly aware that God and we are in contact—and contract—with one another. I have had such experiences. Not many, but mighty, in my life. They have been real enough that I do not question their number.
I offer this today, not to encourage thoughtless grasping, but rather to make us aware that God, from time to time, does not merely hand us a blank check; He hands us one with our own names clearly written on it. The English preacher, Charles Spurgeon, spoke to this, when he wrote:
“A promise from God is like a check. If it’s made out to me, the Queen of England or the President of the United States cannot endorse it; only my signature will do.”