God isn’t a vending machine

Recently I’ve noticed a couple of things about non-Christian, and even Christians, views of God. Mainly, the view that  “If I didn’t get what I wanted there is no God.”

I’ve held this view in the past, so believe me I understand it. What I don’t always understand as well are the people who don’t follow God but then put in their orders for what they want in life and expect them to fall from the sky simply because they asked.  They deny God, or curse God, almost every day of their life, but when they need something, suddenly He’s real and if they don’t feel those prayers are answered, then He doesn’t exist again.

Yes, the Bible does tell us to submit our petitions to God but it does not say He works like a vending machine.  We don’t put our coins of “good faith” into it and pull a lever and wait.

A relationship with God isn’t like the Sears catalog that used to come in the mail around Christmas when I was a kid. You don’t get to make a wish list and then God just checks it off and hands you what you want, when you want it. That isn’t how life works. And to say there is no God because you didn’t get everything you wanted, when you wanted it, sounds a lot like a spoiled, entitled brat. I’m preaching to myself here as a reminder because even though I’m better now, I was once similar.

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I know of a person (I don’t know them well, even though they are related to my family) who posts photos all over social media along the lines of “God says you’re going to have a miracle today” or “God says you will be blessed today” or “God says today all you’ve gone through will be worth it.” This is coming from a person who lives their life for them. They base decisions based on what will benefit them the most.

They don’t live their life as someone who believes in God until they want something. This is a person who texted me the morning they were having surgery asking for prayer the morning of it. I sent a prayer over the phone. The surgery went well. Two months later I never heard from the person again and that was over a year ago.

Cha-ching. Prayer submitted, prayer received, move on until the person needs something from God again, I guess. I don’t know that for sure, because only God knows the personal relationship between himself and his children, but it is how it seems from where I stand.

For my own sanity, I’ve made a decision to no longer pick up the phone when people like this call, looking for me to support their vending machine mentality. For a long time, I was the vending machine for a lot of people – needed a place to stay, pull lever; money, pull lever; need someone to watch the kids, pull lever. I finally put the “out of order” sign on the machine and walked away. Surprisingly, I haven’t heard from these people since.

Now my goal is not to look to God to be my vending machine.

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God does want us to submit our requests to Him, but he also wants a relationship with us. He wants to give us the desires of our heart, but sometimes He knows those desires are not what is best for us. Ouch. I didn’t even like writing that because I have some prayers submitted these days that are not being answered and it hurts. I don’t understand why I’m in the places I’m in (I mean the places I didn’t get myself stuck in, of course), but God does and one day He will reveal it all for His glory. That’s what I have to try my best to remember even as I struggle with the why questions.

Today I heard a sermon and the pastor encouraged those listening to say throughout their day, as a prayer to God: “You are good. And you are with me.” We need to remember that He is with us, even when we don’t know why we are in the place we are, or maybe we know how we got to a place in our life, but we don’t know how to fix it.

He is good.

He is with us.

But he is not our vending machine of desires.

Written by Lisa R. Howeler

As a writer, photographer and former journalist, Lisa R. Howeler writes a little bit about everything on her blog Boondock Ramblings. She self-published her first novel, A Story to Tell, in September 2019 on Amazon. She's a wife and a mother and enjoys a good John Wayne movie and a cozy Jan Karon book. She's also a freelance writer and photographer who is a contributor to various stock agencies, including Lightstock and Alamy. Her photography work focuses on documentary and photojournalism.

9 comments

  1. I have a couple cousins like this. They will ask for prayers, then when they are answered they are happy for awhile but then they go back to their entitled ways. They never act grateful and always want more. It is a very sad thing to see. They even make fun of Christians, then when life gets hard they ask the ones in the family that believe to “Please pray for us”. I don’t get it either.

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  2. Right there with you, Lisa! I am definitely working on my relationship with God and, as I do, I find I am having to let go of certain ideas and notions that I had about God. It’s all for the best, but sometimes letting go of those notions hurts, lol. It means I have to be a bit more mature and sometimes I feel like pitching a little kid fit. 🙂 God knows what I want, He also knows what is actually best for me. I am trying to let Him use the situations we are in to help me grow closer to Him. Some days I am more successful than others 😉 God Bless!

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  3. God wouldn’t encourage us to pray to him, if he had no intention of intervening in human affairs. He always answers every prayer, although his answers often differ from what we expect (for example, God has many more creative ways of alleviating suffering than by his simply effecting a “miraculous” cure). So sometimes his answer is “yes,” sometimes it’s “no,” sometimes it’s “later,” and sometimes even “I’ll see what I can do, but I can’t guarantee anything” (because he often delegates the answer to prayer to other human beings, to test their obedience). These aspects of communication with God confuse many people (which can result in their abandonment of faith), but they make sense because God wants us to voluntarily live by faith, engage in works that bless the lives of others, and he refrains as much as possible from abridging our free agency.

    The felt presence of a good, loving and attentive God is the ultimate comfort.

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  4. I hate to say it but even I have had that whole idea of doing everything just right meaning I’ll be blessed by God. I seem to always assume if something goes wrong it’s because of something I did wrong. Yep… my theology has been messed up but I’m working on it!

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  5. I completely agree with this. Plus, I’ve seen people assume that obedience is the coinage for a vending machine of blessings.
    I felt so uncomfortable when a relative who was struggling commented that I had the ‘blessings’ I did because we allowed another relative to stay in our home for a few months. Dude; it’s more about making good financial decisions with what you DO have than about charity toward others…

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