When I was a little kid, I loved the vending machine in the laundromat—probably because it was the only thing interesting there. One time I took some of my saved quarters to purchase candy, a Mr. Goodbar. The coins I sent down the machine’s money-slot produced my desired candy, but something wasn’t right. The Mr. Goodbar looked okay from the outside, but when I opened it up, instead of seeing pure, brown milk chocolate… it was white. Mr. Goodbars are supposed to be brown with peanuts! So I tried the machine again, and again, they were white! I have no idea how old they were or if they had melted or been frozen – they were disgusting. Still, I continued to go to that vending machine because of a strong desire for candy, even if I did not get what I wanted.
I think so many of us look at God like a vending machine. We spend our time in prayer telling Him what we want. We say, “Hey God, I want this. I want that.” And if we don’t get it, we get mad, saying, “Oh man, I wasted my time. I want a refund. I want a do-over. This is ridiculous. This is not what I wanted.”
Most certainly, one purpose of prayer is to tell God the desires of our hearts, but remember: He already knows our hearts. He knows every thought in your head. He knows your need before you even knew you had one.
I don’t believe prayer was designed for us to simply ask God for what we want. “Give me this, and give me that.” You would never approach a friend and bluntly say, “Buy me a purse. Buy me a jacket. Help me be patient. Find me a new job. Take me on a vacation.”
Prayer is the primary means for you to have a relationship with God.
Yes, little toddlers demand things of us, but they also come snuggle in your lap, give you hugs and kisses, and say sweet things. This is closer to what prayer should really be about. It’s about going to the Lord and saying, “Awesome Daddy, thank You for loving me. Thank You for creating me. What is on Your heart today? I’ll just sit here and listen. I want to experience You and hear from You. I want to sit here and acknowledge Your presence and love.” And then, “Now, Daddy, here are the needs and desires of my heart. Would you please take them and provide as you see best?”
I want to encourage you to seek God with your whole heart, mind, and strength. Draw near to Him and encounter his love. Wait on Him and renew your strength like Isaiah 41:1 teaches us. Be still and know that He is God. Learn to listen and discern His voice quickly, then you can act in obedience and give Him glory in everything.