(Cultural reference – Pokies/poker machines/slots/slot machines/fruit machines – same thing!)
Over the next few posts we are going to look at some aspects of Prayer. Prayer is one of the most misunderstood things that Christians involve themselves in. We struggle with it daily – because, quite simply, it doesn’t seem natural to us. There are barriers in the way of our understanding and doing, and many of those are our own preconceptions of prayer!
Luke 18:1-8 (HCSB)
He then told them a parable on the need for them to pray always and not become discouraged: “There was a judge in a certain town who didn’t fear God or respect man. And a widow in that town kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ “For a while he was unwilling, but later he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or respect man, yet because this widow keeps pestering me, I will give her justice, so she doesn’t wear me outby her persistent coming.’”
Then the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. Will not God grant justice to His elect who cry out to Him day and night? Will He delay to help them? I tell you that He will swiftly grant them justice. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He find that faith on earth?”
Most Christians will have heard this parable read out aloud in Bible studies, prayer groups and from the pulpit. I still remember one preacher using it to remind us we need to continually go to God – to bring our needs to Him over and over until He acts – in one way or another!
It reminds me of the pokies (slots).
You know, you turn up with a pocket full of change. If you don’t have a pocket full, the nice person in the nicer clothes will offer to convert any convenient notes, credit cards or other items into a handy pocket full of change.
Then you walk up to the magic machine, pray your prayer, insert a coin and pull the handle.
If all goes well, your ‘number is up’ – unless you are on the fruit machines of course, and then you hope for three oranges… In any case, a bunch of money comes out the bottom, in a convenient denomination that you can keep on inserting until it is all gone again.
Though most of the time, you insert your coin, pull the handle and nothing happens, or maybe you just get 5 or 10 coins back. That’s not enough, put another one in the slot, cross your fingers, look to heaven and promise you will double tithe your winnings and pull again.
Is your prayer life like this too? I know mine sometimes is – God, heres this (pull handle), and this (pull handle) and that (pull handle), and I really hope you deal with one of them today. By the way, I’ve got this whole pocket full of things for you, should I go through the whole list? So we throw our list to heaven, not really believing God can deal with any of it, but feeling righteous, holy and utterly ‘Christian’ because we spent 40 seconds bombarding God with our pocket full of cares.
What’s wrong with this picture? We aren’t approaching God in faith – we don’t believe that He is actually going to do anything, we are just throwing our cares in the air and hoping the God (magic problem fairy) will maybe pull one or two of them out and deal with them, but if not, there is always tomorrow…
We start to see God as the unjust Judge, who we need to pester daily to ensure that he hears us, and finally gets sick of us and gives us something – anything! We think if we can come up with enough things to throw up to heaven, surely some of them will get dealt with, because if we put more coins, surely our odds are better of winning…
What then is our challenge?
To come to God in faith. Not in doubt. Not looking at God as the Magic Problem Fairy who can solve all our needs if we just pull the handle often enough. But looking at God as the Righteous and Holy Creator of the universe that He is – and yet, the loving and caring God that He has shown Himself to be.
It’s a tough call, but it is a start. So next time you go to God in prayer, instead of playing the pokies with God, why not focus on who God is, and bring your cares to Him, knowing that God can and will deal with what you ask – if you would only ask in faith.