Do We Treat God Like A Vending Machine When We Pray?: Seeking His Will Not Ours

Posted: April 15, 2015 in 42-Gospel of Luke
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Luke 18:1-8 — Today, we look at what has come to be known as the Parable of the Persistent Widow. In this parable, I am reminded of when my kids were little. Kids can be amazingly persistent when they want something. If you have ever been shopping with a child, the cries of “Can I have it?” are persistent. Can I have it? Can I have it? Can I have it? Eventually, and sometimes it is simply to get them to shut up, we parents sometimes give in to our kids. This parable is similar to that constant pressure of a child asking his parent for something. In this parable, the persistence of the widow is rewarded eventually. Jesus then uses the illustration to demonstrate our prayers are a reflection of our faith. In prayer we must seek God’s will and we must be persistent in our faith.

There was a song back in the day by Garth Brooks in which the lyrics said, “Sometimes, God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.” The song was about how sometimes we pray for things that we think are the answers to our problems but yet God knows what better for us. I think it is important in this parable to note that the widow was persistent with the judge because she was seeking justice. She was not seeking some kind of self-gratification. Since Jesus was relating this parable to prayer, we must remember that we must always be seeking God’s will when we pray. Even when a loved one is lying on their death bed, we must seek God’s will in prayer. Our natural tendency in those situations, because we love someone, is to selfishly ask God to prevent death from coming. Even that most desperate of situations, we must ask God to reveal His will to us. We must seek God’s will even when we do not understand why He is doing what He is doing. Sometimes, seeking God’s will in prayer, is completely opposite of our nature. But, we do have an example in Jesus. When He was in the Garden of Gethsemane praying, we see Jesus asking, in his humanness for The Father to take the cup away from Him if it was possible. Jesus knew the human suffering that He was going to endure and the wrath of the Father that He was going to endure. It was going to be horrendous for Jesus. However, Jesus says to the Father that, basically, although I would love to avoid all this, I want your will Father to be done not mine. Our prayers must seek God’s will. We must humble our desires, what we want from God to what God has in store. We must seek understanding of His will.

Janis Joplin asked for a Mercedes Benz and a color TV in her 1960’s song on this subject. We may laugh at the pure selfishness of this satirical song, but in satire there is truth. Many of us pray as if God were a vending machine. Push a button. Get what we want. Many of get angry at God like do at vending machines when we push the Dr. Pepper button and a Seven-Up comes out. Seek the Kingdom of God first, Matthew 6:33 says, and all other things will added unto to you. When we seek God’s will does that mean we never get what we want? Not sure if that would be the right thing to say here, but we must remember that our Father in heaven is a loving Father. Just as we seek to do what is best for our children as earthly parents, our Father in heaven is never going to give us something that is bad for us. He will only provide for us what is good for us. That is why sometimes His greatest gift to us is unanswered prayers. We often pray for our selfish desires rather than God’s will. Just as sometimes kids as for things that they do not see the end result of what granting them the gift would bring, but we as parents see it and refuse to give the gift desired. God is the same way when it comes to our prayers. Therefore, when we pray to our all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful God, let us pray for His will to be revealed to us rather than praying for what we desire.

Also taught to us in this parable is that we should be persistent in our prayers. I think that this is so necessary. We often pray briefly for something and when we do not see the result we want we give up. We live in a microwave, cell phone, internet world where everything is now instantaneous. We think our prayer life should be the same. Push a button. Get what we want instantly. I think the most profound thing that I have ever said in this regard and I would credit the person who wrote it or said it if I could remember but I can’t remember. But what was said is that prayer is not for changing God, it is for changing us. In being persistent in prayer of a subject, we become changed not God. In persistence in prayer, we come to seek God’s will. In persistence in prayer, we come to see God’s will. In persistence in prayer, we come to align ourselves with God’s will. In persistence in prayer, we humble ourselves to God’s will. It is like the child who gives up on football because the practices are long and hard. The child then never learns the value of putting in hard work. The child never learns to put the team’s needs ahead of his own. He never learns the lessons of life that football often teaches. The child will be better off in the long run by submitting himself to the grueling practices day to day that are a part of football, but if he gives up on it, he remains focused on himself. Prayer is the same way. The practice we put in. The day to day practice we put in reveals to us things that will make us better off in the long run. If we give up on prayer, we remain selfish. If we give up on prayer, we do not learn the things that God wants us to learn. We do not change God in prayer. We become changed. We find His will in persistence in prayer.

Father, help me to improve my prayer life. Help me to seek you daily. Help me to exercise my prayer muscles daily. Help me to put in the practice daily. Help me to seek your will in my prayers not my selfish desires. Help me to visit with you intimately on a daily basis so that I can learn and understand your will and align my will with yours. Amen.

  1. robg1981 says:

    will god sends someone to hell for treating him like a vending machine? I sometimes do that


    • Mark Bowling says:

      The Bible is very clear on what will cause us to go to hell. God does not want anyone to go to hell (2 Peter 3:9). That is why God made the ultimate, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice on our behalf. If you want to not go to hell, receive Jesus as your Savior. It is as simple as that. Tell God that you recognize that you are a sinner and that you deserve to go to hell. Declare to God that you are trusting in Jesus Christ as your Savior. Thank God for providing for your salvation and deliverance from hell. Simple faith, trusting in Jesus Christ as the Savior, is how you can avoid going to hell. Treating God like a vending machine simply shows a lack of spiritual maturity and a true understanding of our position in relation to God. However, in and of itself, that will not condemn you to hell. Only not accepting Christ as your Savior will do that.


  2. robg1981 says:

    will god sends someone to hell for treating him like a vending machine when we want something real bad?


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