This Machine Is Out of Order
Bible Reading: 1 John 3:21-24
If our conscience is clear, we can come to God with bold confidence. And we will receive whatever we request because we obey him and do the things that please him. (1 John 3:21-22)
“OKAY, GOD, I’m going to give you a chance to prove yourself.” Mark knelt beside his bed. He was nine years old and fiercely wanted to believe in God. So he bowed his head, folded his hands and kept praying.
“I really want to believe in you, God. So when I wake up in the morning, if there’s a billion dollars under my bed, I’ll know you’re real.”
Mark didn't get the billion dollars. Maybe God turned him down because he told God he wanted it in one dollar bills and it wouldn't fit under the bed with the action figures, dirty clothes, and dust bunnies.
A more likely reason Mark didn't get the money was his goofed-up idea about God. He imagined God was a heavenly vending machine: Deposit a prayer, push the right button, and you get your wish. He thought God was a sort of Santa Claus figure waiting to fulfill kids’ wish lists. If he only prayed and believed hard enough, God would plop down everything a nine-year-old heart desired.
It’s not a surprise when a kid thinks that way. Unfortunately, lots of adults also think of God as the Divine Vending Machine. They never get a better understanding of God than this “Santa Claus myth.”
God loves to answer prayer. He says, “Ask me and I will tell you some remarkable secrets” (Jeremiah 33:3). He even promises, “While they are still talking to me about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers!” (Isaiah 65:24).
But prayer isn't a coin to plunk into a vending machine, and faith isn't a button you bang on. God doesn't cave in to human whims and wishes. God thinks bigger than petty human wishes. He’s the Almighty, Love Incarnate, the God who longs for His children to return the love He has heaped on them. He wants us to love him, not stuff. He wants us to seek him, not answers to greedy prayers. He wants us to obey Him, not because we hope it bags us a billion dollars, but because we love Him and want to please Him.
Here’s the huge irony: When you quit thinking of God as a heavenly vending machine, you can be confident you will receive what you ask from him. It won’t happen because you punch a button and expect God to produce, but because you obey His commands and do what pleases Him (see 1 John 3:22).
REFLECT: How do your prayers sound? Do you treat God like a vending machine?
PRAY: Spend a few moments sharing your love with God. And in your prayer, don’t ask him for anything.
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