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This past Sunday, I taught from Judges 11, covering our latest "wounded healer" in this sermon series -- Jephthah [watch the sermon here]. I told you the past couple weeks would be like counseling. This message was centered on the concept of inner vows we make, and how to break free...


What is an Inner Vow? An inner vow is a determination set in the mind and heart to protect us from pain. It is a promise that we make to ourselves, and it often involves the use of words like “always” and “never.” If you can’t change your behavior, even when you really want to, it may be that you have made an inner vow.

Here are some examples of inner vows:

  • I will never let anyone touch me like that again
    • The pain you were protecting yourself from: physical or sexual abuse
    • The long term result: inability to be intimate even when you want to be
  • I will never open up my heart again.
    • The pain you were protecting yourself from: abandonment and rejection
    • The long term result: inability to maintain relationships when you desire
  • I will always take care of myself.
    • The pain you were protecting yourself from: neglect from a caregiver
    • The long term result: inability to accept help from others for your needs
  • I will always protect my children
    • The pain you were protecting yourself from: being unprotected by a parent
    • The long term result: inability to let your child take risks

Because of the binding nature of vows and the power of the will, this is not a problem that we will eventually grow out of, even if the original vow has long been since forgotten. Our vows can have devastating effects on our relationships.


1. Receive the power of the Holy Spirit by asking Jesus to consume your thoughts, will and emotions.
Jesus I have sinned -- I’ve messed up. I can’t make up for the wrong I’ve done. Thank you for forgiving me through your death on the cross and freeing me from guilt and shame. I ask you to take my mind, fill me with your Spirit, free me to love you will with my whole heart and strength. Amen.

2. Ask the Lord to bring to your memory any vows you have made that harmed you and may have been forgotten.
Lord, I ask you to show me any areas of my life where I have made vows in order to protect myself. Bring to mind the words I have spoken that have locked me in a cycle that I want to change.

3. Cast away those inner vows that come to your memory.
Jesus, I cast down those vows made as an act of my will and desire to control the outcomes of my life. I renounce statements I’ve made in the past that I will never .... Free me from the power of those vows and set me free to make choices that please you.

4. Release the person or situation that led you to make that vow.
Jesus, help me to forgive the person and release the situation that led me to make that vow. These things are in the past and have no power over my present life. I am healed. I am whole. I am set free.

5. Thank the Lord for your new freedom and a renewed heart.
Lord, I surrender to you and trust that you will protect me. Soften my hard heart. There may be a time when I am hurt again, but I know you will be there to hold my broken heart. I no longer trust in my own strength but wholly lean on you.