God Is More Than A Vending Machine | Gospel Reflection

by Catholic Bible Studies And Reflections, Gospels

Gospel of Luke 11:1-13

Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished,
one of his disciples said to him,
“Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.”
He said to them, “When you pray, say:
Father, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread
and forgive us our sins
for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us,
and do not subject us to the final test.”

And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend
to whom he goes at midnight and says,’Friend, lend me three loaves of bread,
for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey
and I have nothing to offer him,’
and he says in reply from within,
‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked
and my children and I are already in bed.
I cannot get up to give you anything.’
I tell you,
if he does not get up to give the visitor the loaves
because of their friendship,
he will get up to give him whatever he needs
because of his persistence.

“And I tell you, ask and you will receive;
seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks, receives;
and the one who seeks, finds;
and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
What father among you would hand his son a snake
when he asks for a fish?
Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg?
If you then, who are wicked,
know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will the Father in heaven
give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?”

– Luke 11:1-13

Gospel Reflection: God Isn’t A Vending Machine

In this week’s Gospel reading, we are told that all we need to do is ask and the door shall be opened and we shall receive.  This is such a beautiful example of God’s love for us, but I have also heard people interpret it in problematic ways.  God’s plan is often complicated and we have all heard things like, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” 

Since God’s plan can be so complex and complicated, it can take time for us to understand.  Often, when we are suffering or in desolation, we can look at this Gospel passage and wonder why God is not doing what we ask.  We were promised that we would get what we asked for.  Well, I am telling you what I want and I am still suffering.  I believe that this interpretation turns God into a vending machine of sorts.  We put in our prayers and requests like quarters and then God will give us what we want. 

This is not the relationship that God is calling us to.  God always knows more about what we need than we do.  As long as we stay with Him in prayer consistently, we will learn that, while we maybe did not get what we requested, we were given what we truly needed.  If you find yourself frustrated with God and this Gospel passage, take some time to reflect on times in the past when you learned that what God wanted for you was much greater than what you had envisioned for yourself.

This reflection was originally published HERE.

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