An inner vow is a statement about what we will do or not do. Its quite often made in childhood and forgotten, but it can also be made by adults in certain situations. It is usually made because of experiencing extreme emotional distress, hurt, or humiliation, and we not want to get in the same hurtful situation again.
1. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit. Proverbs 18:21
2. Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, "You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord." But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your statement be, "Yes, yes" or "No, no;" and anything beyond these is of evil. Matthew 5:33-37
3. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. I Corinthians 13:11
4. I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, “Go, throw yourself into the sea,” and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Mark 11:23
An inner vow is spoken from the heart what the person really believes at the time. However, now we have matured or we have learned the truth and our minds and hearts have changed. But even if we want to be free, this vow will still persistently affect us. We will still be bound by the words that we spoke.
Let’s look at some examples.
A) Suppose that a little girl is the oldest of 10 children. Her mother has been pregnant many times and she has had to help with the other children. She is very frustrated that she has had to help care for her brothers and sisters instead of enjoying a carefree childhood. She makes the inner vow: “When I grow up I am not going to have any children.” After she is grown and married and has forgotten the vow that she made, she finds that she cannot get pregnant, even though she now desires to have children.
B) Suppose that a little boy must give some kind of report to his class. He gets his tongue twisted trying to say something and everybody laughs, including the teacher. He makes the inner vow: “I will never speak before a group of people again.” When he is an adult, he finds that he absolutely cannot make any kind of presentation or speech, even if his job requires it.
C) Suppose that a little girl is teased and tormented by her brothers. They will not leave her alone but seem to find pleasure in trying to make her miserable. She makes the inner vow: “I am not going to have any male children.” In adulthood she finds that she can have a baby that is a girl, but every time she gets pregnant with a boy, she has a miscarriage.
D) Suppose that a little girl does not want to bring her friends home with her because her mother is such a bad housekeeper and the house is always a mess. She makes the inner vow: “When I grow up, I am going to keep my house neat and looking nice.” In adulthood she finds that she is compulsively cleaning and she keeps buying new things for her house, even though it puts a strain on the finances. When her children make a mess, she is devastated.
When we make a vow about what we are going to do or not do in our lives, we are directing our own steps.
5. I know, O Lord, that a man’s life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps. Jeremiah 10:23
6. Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. James 4:13-16
Here are some other common inner vows that people make about themselves.
(I swear that)
I'll never wear hand-me-down clothes.
I'll never sing again.
I'll never fail again.
I’ll never go to the hospital again.
I'll never let him/her get the best of me again.
I'll never share my true feelings.
I'll never get married.
I’ll never be a missionary.
I’ll never feel with my emotions again.
I'll never get married again.
I’ll never desert my children.
I'll never preach the gospel.
I’ll always support my family.
I'll never hit a woman.
I’ll always be a good mother/father.
I'll never try to do that again.
So help me God, I'll....
You'll never catch me....
You just see if I ever....
When we say the inner vow with great emotion, vow it or swear it, then it is sealed. Our words will rise up and interfere if we try to do what we said that we would do or not do. Even good sounding statements still trap us in unwanted behaviors. We can repent many times for not doing something that we vowed that we would never do, but repenting for present actions or inactions will not get rid of the bondage. Dealing with the present is not what is needed because the problem is from the past where the vow was made, and the vow is what needs to be broken.
Usually we do not remember making the vows and we must ask the Lord to bring them back to our remembrance so that we can deal with them. Sometimes we can tell that a vow is present by what is happening, and we do not need to remember making it. We can just repent for making the vow, and if it is not there, no harm is done.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus, I break the inner vow of saying __________. I repent for making this vow and I forgive those who hurt me and caused me to make this vow. I speak to my body and my emotions and I say that I release you from this vow, and I declare that this vow will have no further power to affect me. If anything in my body was damaged by this vow, I ask for healing so that it will function properly. Amen.