A vow is “a solemn promise made to God, a promise of something to be given or done hereafter. In a moral and religious sense, vows are promises to God, as they appeal to God to witness their sincerity, and the violation of them is a most heinous offense.” To vow is defined as “to give, consecrate or dedicate to God by a solemn promise.”–Webster’s American Dictionary

“When thou vowest a vow defer not to pay it.”–Ecclesiastes 5:4

  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, 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, 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, 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, July 25, 1945

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

To progress, you must hold to your vows.–Edna Lister, January 8, 1948

You may indulge in no imperfection, especially of personality, after you make high vows of ascension.–Edna Lister, 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

You wrap a millstone around your neck when you take vows and then make mistakes. Under vows such as Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect, your disposition may offend others. You must conquer your 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 Vials of Wrath, December 16, 1952

If you fail to keep your vows, you cool off, and the first sign is letting the outer control your life. You may think you pray, but lose your fervent high point of consciousness, or worse, your sense of responsibility not to create greater soul debts. Finally, you forget past revelations, because divine protection prevents you from charging greater debts than you can pay. Never blame another for failing to keep his vows.–Edna Lister, May 28, 1953

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

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

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

When you renew your vows, you move up in consciousness, into your own rate of vibration in the River of Life.–Edna Lister, Your Life’s Goal, May 30, 1954

You die a little each time you fail to finish a project, to keep your vows or to fulfill your 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

"As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent."—Revelation 3:19. Once you have signed the vows and covenants you make with your soul, the divine principle of justice shows you your faults and brings you back in line.–Edna Lister, The Open Door, November 20, 1955

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

Easily made, repetitive vows that pacify the maker, mock God, for no intent to be responsible is behind them.–Edna Lister, 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 your 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 will remove your diaper! Be dynamic but cooperative with no forcing.–Edna Lister, Nor 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, 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 your business.–Edna Lister, September 16, 1958

Too often, the soul’s difficulty is high vision and low living. Only high vows open the Gates of Light to become Christed.–Edna Lister, 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, 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 your vows are registered, which is as high as you can keep those vows if you 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, December 10, 1962

You have vowed to live in the Light, and Light has registered your vows. You may not act or speak differently than your 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 your vows means doing something daily toward setting your house in order, finishing all projects you’ve started, and keeping promises you’ve 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, September 13, 1964

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

Every contract you fulfill with yourself or to God, pays your vows.–Edna Lister, 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, 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, May 26, 1969

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The 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 a master in all responsibility is the Master’s vow.
I vow to remain 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. memorize this verse and heed this warning.
  You must pay your 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, you return to the first rung on the ladder of ascension. Until you have paid all outer debts, you remain only a Neophyte. You may earn everything again by prayer, sacrifice of self and earning your way daily in devotion.
  When you flout any vow, you 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.
  Each must face the question, Do I want God more than I desire to indulge self? You occupy the place you have chosen and made. You may wallow in it, seeking someone to lean on, or choose and make your own place. God releases the Light upon which you may climb, yet one thought of self-pity and you lose contact.
  You are alone with God, your vows, your choice and you may not petition for release from this until you satisfy every jot and tittle of law. You may have continued your dawdling for ten incarnations of the same foolishness. It is a matter of choice now, up or down into retrogression. No one will lift you.–Edna Lister, April 15, 1956

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Jephthah’s Daughter: And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the Lord, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands, then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the Lord’s, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.
  So Jephthah passed over unto the children of Ammon to fight against them; and the Lord delivered them into his hands. And he smote them from Aroer, even till thou come to Minnith, even twenty cities, and unto the plain of the vineyards, with a very great slaughter. Thus the children of Ammon were subdued before the children of Israel.
  And Jephthah came to Mizpeh unto his house, and, behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances: and she was his only child; beside her he had neither son nor daughter. And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he rent his clothes, and said, Alas, my daughter! thou hast brought me very low, and thou art one of them that trouble me: for I have opened my mouth unto the Lord, and I cannot go back.
  And she said unto him, My father, if thou hast opened thy mouth unto the Lord, do to me according to that which hath proceeded out of thy mouth; forasmuch as the Lord hath taken vengeance for thee of thine enemies, even of the children of Ammon. And she said unto her father, Let this thing be done for me: let me alone two months, that I may go up and down upon the mountains, and bewail my virginity, I and my fellows.
  And he said, Go. And he sent her away for two months: and she went with her companions, and bewailed her virginity upon the mountains. And it came to pass at the end of two months, that she returned unto her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had vowed: and she knew no man. And it was a custom in Israel, that the daughters of Israel went yearly to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in a year.–Judges 11:30-40

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New Testament on Vows

Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: but I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.–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 things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.–James 5:12

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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 soul swear, pronouncing with his lips to do evil, or to do good, whatsoever it be that a man shall pronounce with an oath, and it be hid from him; when he knoweth of it, then he shall be guilty in one of these. And it shall be, when he shall be guilty in one of these things, that he shall confess that he hath sinned in that thing.–Leviticus 5:4-5

Ye shall not swear by My name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God.–Leviticus 19:12

If a man vow a vow unto the Lord, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth–Numbers 30:2

Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, and serve Him, and shalt swear by His name.–Deuteronomy 6:13

When thou shalt vow a vow unto the Lord thy God, thou shalt not slack to pay it: for the Lord thy God will surely require it of thee; and it would be sin in thee. But if thou shalt forbear to vow, it shall be no sin in thee. That which is gone out of thy lips thou shalt keep and perform; even a freewill offering, according as thou hast vowed unto the Lord thy God, which thou hast promised with thy mouth.–Deuteronomy 23:21-23

Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High.–Psalm 50:14

In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me. Thy vows are upon me, O God: I will render praises unto thee. For thou hast 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 thy house with burnt offerings: I will pay thee my vows, which my lips have uttered, and my mouth hath spoken, when I was in trouble.–Psalm 66:13-14

Vow, and pay unto the Lord your God.–Psalm 76:11

What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people.–Psalm 116:12-14

When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.–Ecclesiastes 5:4-5

Thou shalt make thy prayer unto him, and he shall hear thee, and thou shalt pay thy vows. Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee: and the light shall shine upon thy 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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Edna Miriam Lister
1884 – 1971
The original Christian Pioneering Mystic,
Platonist philosopher, American Idealist, Founder, Society of the Universal Living Christ, minister, teacher, author, wife, and mother.

Edna Lister

Etymology of vow: Anglo-French and Old French voe (Modern French vœu), from Latin votum a promise to a god, solemn pledge, dedication; that which is promised; a wish, desire, longing, prayer, noun use of neuter of votus, past participle of vovere to promise solemnly, pledge, dedicate, vow,

Vows are laws of doing.
Every vow names an initiation.


The Oxford English Dictionary, Compact Edition 2 vols. Oxford University Press, 1971.

The Holy Bible. King James Version (KJV).

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

Webster, Noah. “Vows,” Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language. New York: S. Converse, 1828.

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