A vow is "a solemn promise made to God to perform some act, or make some gift or sacrifice, in return for some special favor, a solemn engagement, undertaking, or resolve, to achieve something or to act in a certain way, a solemn promise of fidelity, an earnest wish or desire, a prayer, a supplication, a votive offering."

Vows are laws of doing and initiations. Vows are promises you make to God and to yourself. They are dynamic declarations of intention to become some new state of being or to act in a new way. With every vow, you invite the universe to test your resolve until you have made your change complete.

Edna Lister on Vows

You can make no vows without taking stock of self. – Edna Lister, What Is Lent, February 7, 1937.

A vow is a contract, first with your own soul, second, a contract with God. You must fulfill the vows you make from pride. – Edna Lister, What Are Vows, January 2, 1938.

Our vow is loyalty to "Honor above all things." – Edna Lister, Unpublished Papers, September 36, 1938.

The Way of the Seer and Prophet is, "I vow to ignore the truth of appearance and to accept, to surrender to and to declare the truth of reality." The first and fundamental law of expression for the Elect, the secret of all creation is to declare every creation "good and very good." – Edna Lister, A Design for Ascension, 1941.

For God to answer our prayers, we must receive the law, make our prayer and pay our vows. – Edna Lister, Flaming Desire, May 26, 1941.

Pay your vows word by word, and do not try to change them later to suit your convenience. – Edna Lister, Unpublished Papers, July 10, 1945.

You gain the soul's powers by paying high vows, made under deep travail of soul, to serve only God forever. To use the soul powers for self is illegal, unlawful and contracts a great debt. – Edna Lister, Unpublished Papers, July 19, 1945.

You advance and ascend only on fulfilled vows, and earth duties well performed in joy and in delight. Working from a sense of duty cannot ascend you. – Edna Lister, Unpublished Papers, July 25, 1945.

Hypocrisy is making high vows then expecting another to keep them for you. – Edna Lister, Unpublished Papers, June 17, 1947.

To progress, we must hold to our vows. – Edna Lister, Unpublished Papers, January 8, 1948.

You may indulge in no imperfection, especially of personality, after you make high vows of Ascension. – Edna Lister, Unpublished Papers, April 19, 1948.

The law is to abstain from all appearance of evil, avoid using words that might cause you to break your vows. – Edna Lister, Rewards for Service, July 15, 1951.

We wrap a millstone around our neck when we take vows and then make mistakes. Under vows such as "Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect," our disposition may offend others. We must conquer our disposition, which is nothing more than letting self get off the mark emotionally. – Edna Lister, Forgiveness: The Path of Glory, October 21, 1951.

When you vow to become law and to follow Jesus the Christ, you are put on a golden Path of Destiny. – Edna Lister, Seven Angels and Seven Vials of Wrath, December 16, 1952.

He who fails to keep his vows, cools off, and the first sign is letting the outer control your life. He may think he prays, but loses his fervent high point of consciousness, or worse, his sense of responsibility not to create greater soul debts. Finally, he forgets past revelations, because divine protection prevents him from charging greater debts than he can pay. Never blame another for failing to keep his vows. – Edna Lister, Unpublished Papers, May 28, 1953.

God asks no more of you than your freely given vows. – Edna Lister, Unpublished Papers, June 3, 1953.

Each time we make a high vow, someone challenges us, within two days. – Edna Lister, Success Through Prayer, July 7, 1953.

From Easter to Ascension Day, we "sanctify" ourselves to surrender. We are reborn, renewed, vitalized and quickened by the full descent of Christ Power at Pentecost. We consecrate ourselves in new vows, and become "set apart" as we observe these days as holy, free from sin, which is disobedience. Consecration is full surrender and complete transformation. – Edna Lister, Our Life's Practice, May 23, 1954.

When we renew our vows, we move up in consciousness, into our own rate of vibration in the "stream of life." – Edna Lister, Our Life's Goal, May 30, 1954.

We die a little each time we fail to finish a project, keep our vows or promises. The mental body atoms deflate and collapse, causing stiffness, mental fuzziness, depression and paralysis in body or affairs. – Edna Lister, The Well of Living Waters, July 31, 1955.

"Those I love, I rebuke and chasten." – Revelation 3:19. Once we have signed the vows and covenants we make with our souls, the divine principle of justice shows us our faults and brings us back in line. – Edna Lister, The Open Door, November 20, 1955.

You go clear to the bottom when you flout any vow. – Edna Lister, Unpublished Papers, April 14, 1956.

Easily made, repetitive vows that pacify the maker, mock God, for no intent to be responsible is behind them. – Edna Lister, Unpublished Papers, April 14, 1956.

When you make a dynamic vow and say, "I will not do this anymore," you create a potentially devastating chain reaction in every cell and nerve of the body and in the subconscious. You may think you are conquering, but the subconscious "push" makes you awaken with the same habit. Cooperate with your habit. For instance, let "I AM" consciousness light the cigarette and say, "I AM going home! Here is your pacifier, baby. Enjoy it while you can, because soon I AM about to remove your diaper." Be dynamic but cooperative with no forcing. – Edna Lister, No Shadow of Turning, July 15, 1956.

God has long waited for us to ascend to equal our vows. Our practice and the ascent must equal them, and we must pay them. – Edna Lister, Unpublished Papers, November 18, 1956.

A promise is an assurance given, a word-token expressing love, admiration, respect, and a desire to serve in some way. A promise should be a pledge of honor, even on the outer. On the inner, a promise is a vow made under honor. – Edna Lister, Promises Made, May 4, 1958.

What someone else vows is none of our business. – Edna Lister, Unpublished Papers, September 16, 1958.

Too often, our difficulty is high vision and low living. Only high vows open the Gates of Light to become. – Edna Lister, Unpublished Papers, September 17, 1958.

The minute you make vows to conquer, you'll begin initiations. – Edna Lister, A Charted Heaven, October 21, 1958.

You can open all brain cells by obedience to Neophyte vows. – Edna Lister, Unpublished Papers, December 1, 1958.

The law is that you make your highest vow at your weakest point. – Edna Lister, Love Unquenchable, December 7, 1958.

The Seven Degrees each name a great universal principle, which is an actual law and vow of conquering. – Edna Lister, The Pioneering Mystic, May 5, 1959.

When you pour out love to all universally as law, you add credits to them according to the degree and kind of their vows. – Edna Lister, Jesus' Seven Last Words, June 7, 1959.

Justice includes faithfulness to all vows, promises and pledges. We assume vows as a duty with payment to law for disobedience. We are expected to apply discrimination. Don't vow to be patient then invite someone who won't agree with you. We pay debts to the law for disobedience to vows we make. – Edna Lister, The 33 Degrees of Soul Conquering, October 20, 1959.

Practice diligence and discipline in keeping your vows to earn the robe of purity. Do not make vows beyond what you can fulfill. If you make an unwise, foolish promise, do your best to keep it. – Edna Lister, Your Full Birthright, December 6, 1959.

Oversoul moves into the body in proportion to the heights our vows are registered, which is as high as we can keep those vows if we remain close to God. – Edna Lister, This One Thing I Decree, November 19, 1961.

Personal salvation is the deficiency of the world religions, since their vows obligate them to no universal responsibility. – Edna Lister, Unpublished Papers, December 10, 1962.

We have vowed to live in the Light, and Light has registered our vows. We may not act or speak differently than our vows. – Edna Lister, Your Sacred Light, November 10, 1963.

Vows are only registered as high as the soul's ability to practice. Each vow we make is registered and we must practice it. – Edna Lister, Five Keys of the Kingdom, 1964.

"You will make your prayer to Him, and He will hear you; and you will pay your vows. You will also decree a thing, and it will be established for you; so light will shine on your ways." – Job 22:27-28. To pay our vows means doing something daily toward setting our house in order, finishing all projects we've started, and keeping promises we have put off or neglected entirely. – Edna Lister, Five Keys of the Kingdom, 1964.

No one pushes you to neglect your vows, no one. – Edna Lister, Unpublished Papers, September 13, 1964.

God accepts no vows higher than a soul's ability to fulfill them. – Edna Lister, Unpublished Papers, January 28, 1966.

Every contract you fulfill with yourself or to God, pays your vows. – Edna Lister, Unpublished Papers, July 14, 1966.

From the moment we vow to live our life as the Christ lived on earth, we start the first day of our one thousand days of burnt offerings. – Edna Lister, Seven Life Ages of Man: From Birth to the Star's Descent, November 22, 1966.

You can make vows as high as your desire to be responsible. – Edna Lister, Unpublished Papers, December 15, 1966.

Never make a vow that can hurt another. Jephthah vowed that he would offer whatever first came out of his house as a burnt offering in return for victory. His daughter, his only child, met him. – Edna Lister, Unpublished Papers, May 26, 1969.

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Vows of Ascension

"I vow to make my body a fitting dwelling place for my soul" is the Neophyte's vow.

"I vow to surrender completely to become the servant of all the Power" is the Disciple's vow.

"I vow to be selfless in my release of Power" is the Adept's vow.

"I vow to keep my silence shining and golden" is the Mystic's vow.

"I vow to be master in all responsibility" is the Master's vow.

"I vow to keep pure in heart, mind and purpose" is the Priest's vow.

"I vow to make my supreme vow of complete surrender of self" is the Christos vow.

– Edna Lister, Vows, January 7, 1940.

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The Original Pioneering Mystic: Vows

"You will make your prayer to Him, He will hear you and you will pay your vows." – Job 22:27. Copy this verse and memorize it. Heed this.

We must pay our vows and remember that "Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled" (Matthew 5:18). The "all" includes all outer debts. Without this, we return to the first rung on the ladder of ascension. Until we have paid all outer debts, we remain only a Neophyte. We may earn everything again by prayer, sacrifice of self and earning our way daily in devotion.

When we flout any vow, we go clear to the bottom. Puny, futile puerile vows mean nothing. Vows deliberately broken in the next hour, are less than dust in content; their sum is a dark cloud forming a mighty hurricane entity of force buffeting the one who so flouts.

We must all face the question, "Do I want God more than self?" We occupy the place we have chosen and made. We may wallow in it, seeking someone to lean on, or choose and make our own place. God releases the Light upon which we may climb, yet one thought of self-pity and we lose contact.

We are alone with our God, our vows, our choice and we may not petition for release from this until we satisfy every jot and tittle of law. We may have continued our dawdling for ten incarnations of the same foolishness. It is a matter of choice now, up or down into retrogression. No one will lift us. – Edna Lister, Unpublished Papers, April 15, 1956.

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A Story That Illustrates a Rash Vow

Jephthah's Daughter: And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord, and said, "If You will indeed deliver the people of Ammon into my hands, then it will be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the people of Ammon, shall surely be the Lord's, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering."

So Jephthah advanced toward the people of Ammon to fight against them, and the Lord delivered them into his hands. And he defeated them from Aroer as far as Minnith – twenty cities – and to Abel Keramim, with a very great slaughter. Thus the people of Ammon were subdued before the children of Israel. When Jephthah came to his house at Mizpah, there was his daughter, coming out to meet him with timbrels and dancing; and she was his only child. Besides her he had neither son nor daughter.

And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he tore his clothes, and said, "Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low! You are among those who trouble me! For I have given my word to the Lord, and I cannot go back on it."

So she said to him, "My father, it you have given your word to the Lord, do to me according to what has gone out of your mouth, because the Lord has avenged you of your enemies, the people of Ammon."

Then she said to her father, "Let this thing be done for me: let me alone for two months, that I may go and wander on the mountains and bewail my virginity, my friends and I."

So he said, "Go." And he sent her away for two months; and she went with her friends, and bewailed her virginity on the mountains. And it was so at the end of two months that she returned to her father, and he carried out his vow with her which he had vowed. She knew no man. And it became a custom in Israel that the daughters of Israel went four days each year to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite. – Judges 11:30-40.

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New Testament on Vows

You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.' But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God's throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No,' For whatever is more than these is from the evil one. – Matthew 5:33‑37.

When God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he swore by himself, saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee. And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife. – Hebrews 6:13‑16.

Above all, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your "Yes" be "Yes," and your "No," "No," lest you fall into judgment. – James 5:12.

When God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, "Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you." And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. For men indeed swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is for them an end of all dispute. Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. – Hebrews 6:13-18.

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Old Testament on Vows

Tithing, the vow of the tenth part: Jacob made a vow, saying, "If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, so that I come back to my father's house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God. And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God's house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You." – Genesis 28:20-22.

If a person swears, speaking thoughtlessly with his lips to do evil or to do good, whatever it is that a man may pronounce by an oath, and he is unaware of it — when he realizes it, then he shall be guilty in any of these matters. And it shall be, when he is guilty in any of these matters, that he shall confess that he has sinned in that thing. – Leviticus 5:4-5.

You shall not swear by God's name falsely, nor shall you profane the name of your God. – Leviticus 19:12.

If a man makes a vow to the Lord, or swears an oath to bind himself by some agreement, he shall not break his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth. – Numbers 30:2.

You shall fear the Lord your God and serve Him, and shall take oaths in His name. – Deuteronomy 6:13.

When you make a vow to the Lord your God, you shall not delay to pay it; for the Lord your God will surely require it of you, and it would be sin to you. But if you abstain from vowing, it shall not be sin to you. That which has gone from your lips you shall keep and perform, for you voluntarily vowed in the Lord your God what you have promised with your mouth. – Deuteronomy 23:21-23.

Offer to God thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High. – Psalm 50:14.

In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? Vows made to You are binding upon me, O God; I will render praises to You, for You have delivered my soul from death. – Psalm 56:11‑13.

I sing praise unto Thy name forever, that I may daily perform my vows. – Psalm 61:8.

I will go into Your house with burnt offerings; I will pay You my vows, which my lips have uttered and my mouth has spoken when I was in trouble. – Psalm 66:13-14.

Make vows to the Lord your God, and pay them. – Psalm 76:11.

What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits toward me? I will take up the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows to the Lord. – Psalm 116:12-14.

When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; pay what you have vowed. Better not to vow than to vow and not pay. – Ecclesiastes 5:4-5.

You shall make your prayer to Him, and He shall hear you, and you shall pay your vows. And you will decree a thing, and it shall be established [stand] for you, and light shall shine on your ways. – Job 22:27-28.

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Vows in Other Sacred Writings

Let nothing hinder thee to pay your vow in due time, and defer not until death to be justified. – Wisdom of Ben Sirach 18:22.

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Etymology of vow: Middle English vou, from Old French, from Latin votum, "to vow."

Vows are law of doing.

Every vow names an initiation.


The Compact Edition of The Oxford English Dictionary: 2 volumes. E.S.C. Weiner, editor. Oxford University Press, 1971.

The Holy Bible. King James Version (KJV).

The Nag Hammadi Library. James M. Robinson, editor. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1981.

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