Is it ok to make promises to God?

Sometimes I find myself making promises to God that I find hard to keep. I enjoy going out with my friends and drinking socially…not to the point of drunkeness, but just a few drinks. I truly want to change for the better, and I don’t want to drink at all. I sometimes promise myself and God that “this weekend I won’t go out and drink at all”, and sometimes I am successful and sometimes I fail. I truly do it with the best intentions though…and I know what they say, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”. My question is first, should I make promises like that to God and secondly, if I do and I brake them…is that a mortal or venial sin and what do I need to do to about it to be absolved? Thanks

Dear D,

A lot depends on what you mean by promising yourself and God. It sounds more like wishful thinking. It doesn’t sound like your failure to keep your promises have been sinful. When we make a serious commitment to God, we usually don’t say that we are making it to ourselves as well.

If you truly want to improve your behavior, ask God for help. Will power is powerless without God’s help. If you want to make a serious promise or private vow to God, consult your confessor about it first. Such a step is a serious matter. After all, it is almighty God one is addressing. And if one then fails to keep the promise, it can be seriously sinful, depending of the gravity of the promise.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit