Treating God Like A Cosmic Vending Machine: Rethinking How We Pray


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On hand and knee, we come groveling before Him with tears and whimpers begging for that which we long. Like a dog begging for food from it’s masters plate, most often this is how God is approached. And while prayer is powerful and God promises to respond in favor and love, often our own will and desire dominates our prayers rather than our Fathers. Prayers often take the form of dictations, rather than requests. They become the time in which we dump our laundry lists of desires and wants out on the lap of our cosmic vending machine in the sky rather than an intimate and communal time with our creator and father. Our prayers become the coins which we pop in and push the right buttons, only to see the spiraled gears turn to release our desires and wants.

But God is not one who bends to our will but we to his.

Recently I was asked to pray for a clearly emotional and somewhat distraught man. Knowing that I was a “religious” man, he asked for prayers. His mother was seriously ill with major internal issues. The situation is sketchy at best. This man told me that he has been constantly crying and praying, begging God to heal his mother.

This is a noble, understandable, and heartfelt prayer and cry out to God. We should pray for such things—for healing, peace, and God’s providence.

But how often does this man, others like him, and even Christians pray only to ask. Is it really about Him or is merely about us and what we want.

The way we pray betrays what we want.

What do our prayers really sound like to God?

Bless me Father? I want this? I want that? Help me!

Or do we truly pray as He instructed in Matthew 6:9-13


Our Father in Heaven, Your name be honored as holy

We must praise Him for who He! And this thought must be first!

Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

We must cry out for His will and that the Kingdom of God would come to our world.

Give us today our daily bread.

Here we ask for our needs—food—the means to survive. Interesting that it is only a “daily” bread and not storehouses of grain…

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

We must ask for forgiveness of our sins—but as a response to our forgiving others. How often do we pray for the forgiveness of others?

And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

During prayer, we must have our mind on our sin, not just past failures (which we have been forgiven of) but of those failures to come—that we would not fall into the traps of the Devil.

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

It is all His. We must praise Him for all His power and glory.


Here are a few other articles on prayer to chomp on: Perils of Prayer in a Technologized World and The Lost Art of Prayer: The Danger of Praying in Public Places

Here are few questions to ponder: When we ask God for things, do you think we treat Him as a vending machine? How do you think we should pray? How has your approach to prayer evolved or changed over the years?


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  • Here are few questions to ponder: When we ask God for things, do you
    think we treat Him as a vending machine? How do you think we should
    pray? How has your approach to prayer evolved or changed over the years?

    1.  God is our own cosmic Santa Claus.  Didn’t you get the memo?  Sure, sure, He wants me to say Yes to Him and all that Bible stuff, what with its “commandments”, (whatever…doesn’t He realize we are a more enlightened and evolved church today?), but I want Him to say Yes to me.  All the time.  It’s about me, not Him.  I’m a good person.  He is my personal Santa.  And since He loves me, He will always give me what I want, or else I will hold my breath until I turn blue!  I’ll show Him!

    2.  How should we pray?  With confidence, fear, and did I mention fear?  But not the same as being scared, no, no, no….being scared is for anyone who has an intellectual Salvation only.  I’m talkin’ ’bout reverence, respect, and the kind of fear that demands when He says “Hush up now.”, we all hush up, indeed. 

    3.  As I have matured, I have come to the conclusion that just like an earthly father, (but soooo much better and trustworthy!), my Father gives me three answers to any of my prayers/petitions:

    Yes.  No.  Wait.

    Simple as that.  However, I would be remiss if I neglected to mention that I am completely down with the whole “whatsoever you loose in heaven is loosed on earth’ mentality.  My prayers matter.  I do not speak idly to my Dad.  His Spirit prompts me and I follow through.

    Your prayer life says everything about you:

    Thanks for allowing me to opine.  The Disciple’s Prayer is so often misused.  I like how you broke it down!

  • Right on Donald! I hear you. He is no Santa and we should absolutely fear Him. The cloud of his glory is terrifying! And glorious! Thanks for commenting! 

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