Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Vending Machine God


The other day, my brother and I were talking about prayer. He mentioned that some people see God merely as a Vending Machine. And sometimes ask my brother to pray only because they think he has better luck with The Vending Machine. Isn't that so true! I'm pretty sure that when I was a kid I thought of prayer mostly as a means for getting things I wanted or not getting things I didn't want, like a spanking. And no, it didn't work.

I asked God to pleeeease make Mom and Dad give me the ice skates I wanted for Christmas, to make me get a good grade on a test for which I'd not studied one iota, to make the sun stand still so I wouldn't have to get on the bus yet, to make other kids not mad at me, to perform a miracle of 'healing' when I'd broken a plate that was special to Mom, to make my brothers get what they had coming to them, etc.

And as we become adults, we tend to continue to treat God as a vending machine. We ask God for a good job, for good health, for good kids, for good money, a good home, good friends, etc.

Jesus, however, obviously didn't view God as a vending machine, and we have been told by Jesus to pray as He did,  

Our Father,  who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

I don't know about you, but it takes a lot of effort and self restraint to pray selflessly like that, spending time in worship first, seeking God's will, rather than jumping right in with the wish list. Jesus said that we have not because we ask not, or that we ask with wrong motives, so that we can heap it upon our selfish selves.

But what if we're not praying selfishly? What if we're praying about really important things. What if we're praying about something like cancer, and still God doesn't give us what we want? I've thought about that and two people come to my mind. Paul and Jesus. Paul had some 'thorn' in his flesh that God chose not to take from him. I don't know what it was and I don't know why God didn't take it from him. I doubt it was because Paul didn't have enough faith or that he didn't phone enough people on the prayer chain.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus begged God, 'If it be possible, let this cup pass from me,' referring to his imminent death on the Cross, where he took all our sin upon himself, was separated from God,  and suffered the the full wrath of God for our sins. You'd think that Jesus of all people, God's perfect Son, would have enough pull to get what He wanted, but God said no. Jesus submitted himself to the Father's will, 'Yet not as I will, but as You will.' Jesus was obedient, even to death on a cross.

So first of all, I need to remember that my desires need to be in alignment with the way Jesus prayed. Am I really praying for God's will to be done, or am I simply hoping the Vending Machine God will cough out my will in return for my sincere five minutes worth of prayer.

And then, sometimes when I am praying in God's will and lay my requests before Him, I need to remember that He may say 'No.' Will I respond the way Jesus did and say, 'Yet not as I will, but as You will.' ? Or, will I angrily shout, 'How could a loving God...!!'

Please remind me of this when I get to a place in my life where you see me forgetting what I know to be true and right. We are here to help one another. I will need your help at that time. I will need you to remind me of who God is and who I am. I will need you to pray for me and help me get back on the right path, to submit my will to God's will.

Note to Steve in case he's reading: This post was written on Friday, October 22, FYI   :-)

15 comments:

Jenn said...

Great post Judy! I think the reference to the vending machine is quite appropriate. I went through a time where I thought there honestly could be no God if he allows such bad things to happen to good people...it's hard to have faith sometimes...but then I was reminded there is a reason for everything...you just have to have faith in the fact that he knows what we can handle and what we can't!

EmptyNester said...

My dearest friend and I have been known to remark after some sermons at church that we were 'hiding under the pew'(because we were just certain that the preacher was talking about us)...it added a touch of humor to the fact that we knew we had yet more changes to make or yet another something to remember to make us better wives/friends/mothers--people in general (life is, afterall, one ginormous classroom and we do need to keep learning.). Well, your post has 'put me under the pew' this morning! LOL What a great analogy...the Vending Machine! Thank you for this post! Have a great day!!!

Ma What's 4 dinner said...

Amen, well said.

Lots of yummy love,
Alex aka Ma What's For Dinner
www.mawhats4dinner.com

Lana said...

Very good, and you can do the same for me. It's just like being a parent (to simplify it). We are having the big DS discussion (those hand-held game thingies!) with the girls and ourselves, trying to decide if this is a good thing. Sometimes the children cannot see the reason of the parent. I think it's called injustice on some levels and faith on others(depending on the perspective!) ;-)

GlowinGirl said...

Santa in the sky or a vending maching -- yep, a common, false way to treat our Father and Creator. Thy will be done . . . it's about surrender, isn't it? And giving up the control we don't really have but thing we do. His way is better if we just believe it and act as if we do.

Valerie said...

Excellent Post and so very true. We all have done that haven't we.
Now as I have learned to pray and seek God's will thru my prayers (we actually had a woman lead us thru praying the psalms and other scriptures - which was very moving) I sometimes get to a point where I feel bad to pray in such a way - because the person who is suffering (if it is for health) may not understand . .

After watching my mom die - (slow and painful with cancer) I have learned so much in how God uses the suffering and those who watch for His glory at times.

There is sin in the world - and sometimes it is the cause of suffering (I said sometimes) but often times God brings Glory to Himself thru that suffering - and oh how mature we could be if we could pray and understand that more and more.

Thanks for making me think today!

Fevered Brain said...

Yes I did read this and it was a great post whether it was written on Friday or Monday. I suppose we should pray for more luck like this, as John Calvin once said. Maybe you should write about persistence in prayer this Friday and share it with me before you post it.

Heide said...

Thank you! We all need to be reminded of this!

Le Chateau des fleurs by Frenchy said...

Amen and well written!
Bisous
Frenchy

Yenta Mary said...

Love the analogy -- it's so true! But we should be saying prayers of gratitude, prayers of thanks, and even sometimes praying for mercy even if it will mean loss. And people forget, too, that God DOES answer every prayer ... we just don't always get the answer that we wanted ....

Lydia Katheryn said...

That's awesome(:

Under Her Wings said...

I love the "vending machine" description of our prayers. I find myself all too often going to the Father with my requests before I go to Him with my praise and thanksgiving. I know that He is not bound by our inefficiencies in prayer, but at the same time, wouldn't it be wonderful if we could just be so in love with Him that praise is our automatic first response!

Thanks so much for a wonderful and thought provoking post. May the Lord give you great joy as you praise and worship Him in truth.

partialemptynester said...

So true! I love that you go right back to the model prayer...so easy to get off track, but The Word always brings us back!

Denise said...

A very awesome, powerful post.

J_on_tour@jayzspaze said...

Nice one. I have had something on my mind this last week about this topic but I'll need to e mail you in the middle of the week when I have more time.

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