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 really wanted to believe in God. So he bowed his head and prayed hard.
“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. And I’ll never doubt you again.”
Guess what? Mark didn’t get the billion dollars.
Maybe God turned him down because he wanted it in one-dollar bills—and a billion dollars wouldn’t fit under the bed with all the action figures, dirty clothes, and dust bunnies taking up so much space.
Maybe not. A more likely reason Mark didn’t get the money was because he had a goofed-up idea about God. He thought God was a heavenly candy machine: Deposit a prayer, push the right button, and out pops your wish. All he had to do was pray hard enough, and God would plop down everything he could ever want.
It’s not a surprise when a kid thinks that way, because lots of adults also think of God as the Divine Candy Machine.
God loves to answer prayer. He said, “Ask me and I will tell you some remarkable secrets” (Jeremiah 33:3). He even promised, “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 candy machine, and faith isn’t a button you bang on. God doesn’t answer every human whim and wish.
See, God isn’t a heavenly vending machine who passes out gifts and favors. He thinks bigger than our small, sometimes selfish human wishes. God is totally powerful and totally loving, and he longs for his children to return the love he has heaped on us. He wants us to love him, not the stuff he can give us. He wants us to want him, not answers to our greedy prayers.
This may seem strange, but it’s true: When we quit thinking of God as a heavenly vending machine, we can be confident we will receive what we ask from God-not because we’ve punched a button and can expect him to produce, but because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. We know how to ask for his very best for us. That’s the promise of 1 John 3:22!
TALK: God always wants to hear about your hurts, needs, and desires. But how can you change your prayers so you don’t treat God like a candy machine?
PRAY: Lord, we don’t want to ask you for anything right now. We just want to tell you that we love you.
ACT: Take your mind off your own wishes by taking extra time to pray for a friend today.