The next morning after returning from China, I was woken up by Alexis bouncing in her playpen, trying to get my attention with these words, “I love you, Papa. I promise I’ll be quiet and I won’t touch anything. Can I come out of the playpen?” She repeated these 3 statements a few times before I finally awoke with a smile on my face.
Right there in a little child’s mouth was the formula to approaching God: praise, promise, and petition.
First she praised, “I love you, Papa.”
Second she promised, “I’ll be quiet and I won’t touch anything.”
Third she made her petition, “Can I come out of the playpen?”
What was I to do? I was powerless to deny such a request. I got up out of bed, walked across the room and picked her up out of the playpen. Then we snuggled and played in bed.
We should approach God the same way as a child.
First, we ought to praise Him, “I love You, Lord.”
Second, we can make appropriate vows, not to manipulate or bargain with God, but to show our seriousness and sincerity, “I’ll follow You. I’ll obey You to the best of my ability.”
Third, we present our request to Him in the form of a faith prayer.
When I first became Christian, I promised God, “I’ll serve You and tell people about You, but it would be pointless if I got the whole world saved but my own family went to hell. I will preach the Gospel to other people’s family members, You take care of my family members.” I made a vow and then made a request. Within 12 months, all my immediate family members got saved in Australia, America and Africa.
Christians may not know the power of vows. They are not the same as bargaining with God. They spring from a heart that understands what the Father wants. When Alexis said to me, “I promise to be quiet,” she understood what we wanted in the morning: a bit of peace.
Our little girl was successful because she not only knew what we wanted, but she also knew what she wanted. Too many Christians don’t know what God wants of them and aren’t sure what exactly they want themselves. Saying “whatever God wants” will not get you out of the playpen. Going up higher with God requires a better understanding of both God and your needs. The secret of successful prayer is first praise, then promise, then petition.