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Rushed Prayers: Treating God Like He’s a Vending Machine

By Barbara Rainey

First posted on

Note from Barbara: Recently I wrote about the amazing access to God’s presence that we can enjoy because of Jesus’ death and Resurrection. If you missed it, you can find it here. As I’ve continued thinking about this, I’ve discovered I might know a little of what constant access might feel like for God.

As a mom, my children had unhindered access to me every day and they happily took advantage of it. Like most children, they asked millions of questions, told me all their troubles, ran to me crying, woke me up in the middle of the night when they had nightmares or they were scared of the thunder, and boldly brought me their accusations against their siblings.

While it was my choice to always be available, I got really tired of their constant needs. I likened myself to a vending machine. They poked and prodded me and pulled on my clothing like we do vending machines as we put in money and bang on the box if it doesn’t produce quickly enough.

Too often I come to God the same way … as if He’s a vending machine. I rush in and out of prayer. I sometimes hurriedly and, if I’m honest, presumptuously rattle off my needs as I’m flying out the door for the day.

Is your prayer style rushed?

Do you hurry to God with urgent “I need this now” prayers like my kids did with me?

Do you often forget the majesty and authority and perfection of who you are talking to?

I’m guessing the honest answer is yes.

Of course, He is God and He never gets tired of our requests. But that doesn’t mean I should take for granted the privilege of constant access to His holy presence.

And yes, it is good to pray as I’m driving or washing dishes, and yes, there are days when my heart is heavy or preoccupied and I’m not “all there.” Still God sees me in grace and love. He has compassion on me because He knows my weaknesses and frailties just as I knew those of my children. He is my Father who loves me and delights that I come to Him.

But He desires a growing relationship with me. He wants me to grow out of my toddler prayer habits. For toddlers and kids life is all about them. God wants me to mature beyond that stage and learn to talk to Him, my Father, and get to know Him too. His goal is for me to be more like Jesus in the ways He prayed when He was on earth.

In our modern era I think we might ask, “Have we become too comfortable in our view of God, too relaxed in our constant access? Have we remade Him into our buddy … or our “Mr. Fix-it”? Have we forgotten that He is holy?

This week I’ve chosen another prayer by Susanna Wesley, who lived in 17th century and raised ten children. Two of those children became well-known: John Wesley grew up to found the Methodist church and his brother Charles composed over 6000 hymns for the church, including favorites like “And Can It Be?” and “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.”