God not a vending machine vs spiritual warfare

This is probably self evident to everyone else here, but how is asking for divine help during time of duress or suspected spiritual attack different than treating God like a vending machine? Is it simply the difference between spiritual vs material assistance? If so, isn’t sickness or poverty a material condition? It is acceptable to seek divine assistance for oneself in those situations, right?

This isn’t a troll post. I think that these are on some sort of continuum with a line somewhere that when crossed turns a humble request for aid into something unnoble, and I would like to learn where others folks think this line is. OR to learn a different paradigm if my line idea is wrong.


I have struggled with these same questions, and with my faith in general, so you are not alone.

I heard a homily once on Matthew 6:7-15
“This is how you are to pray:
Our Father who are in heaven…”

The homily took the prayer, line by line, and gave a wonderful explanation of why these elements together make the most perfect prayer, and what the homilist reinforced over and over was *“Thy will be done”. *He went on to say that all prayer, even when asking for things/help, must be open to having the answer be “No” or “Not now” or *“I have something else planned for you”. *

I don’t know if this answers your question, but maybe it can give you something to ponder. :wink:

Peace be with you on your journey! :slight_smile:

I RARELY ask God anything for myself except: perseverance, obedience, TRUST, and hearing His “voice” so my feet stay on His path.

My prayers are usually in adoration and for others (especially my daughter’s soul and any souls for whom no one prays). I talk to Jesus all day long (on and off), weird maybe but it’s part of my conscious life. I even pray in my sleep if a dream is bothering me! No, God is not a vending machine. Does God answer/respond to with mercy and healing, prayers from people who don’t “talk” to Him unless they “need” something? Yes I think He does but I can’t tell you how many such prayers or under what circumstances. Teresa of Avila, “There are more tears shed over answered prays then unanswered ones” and, I must say, that is true in my own life.

Be careful what you pray for. Selfish prayer is just that: selfish and an insult, I think, to God. He knows what we need better than we do. He will not leave us defenseless.

The first real prayer I remember (as if it was yesterday) I prayed in bed at around age six. I wanted a blue bicycle and I remember asking God for it. LOL. I got it, btw.

I don’t ask God for anything material. I believe he lives and operates on the spiritual plane, so that’s where I ask for help - for others first, then myself.

I remember my first prayer, too, at around age 5 or 6. I was raised Baptist, so I had been hearing a lot about inviting Jesus into your heart. So one night after I’d gone to bed, I thought about it and asked Jesus into my heart. I had also heard about the angels rejoicing, so I listened for them. Nothing but silence. I just thought, oh well, that’s the way it is and went to sleep.

Pragmatic even at that age. :smiley:

Asking God for help is humble submission to the fact that you need divine help.

It’s no more like treating God as a vending machine than asking your own father for help when you needed it. Did you treat your father as a vending machine when you did so ?


Thanks, these answers do help clear things up.

I think we treat God as a vending machine when our prayer life is full during crisis and nonexistent otherwise.

Do you think that someone with an otherwise non-existent prayer life who realizes this should avoid reaching out to God during crisis and wait until the crisis ends to decide what to do with themselves spiritually?

Do you think that someone with an otherwise non-existent prayer life who realizes this should avoid reaching out to God during crisis and wait until the crisis ends to decide what to do with themselves spiritually?

Not at all. Your prayer life has to begin sometime. If it starts during a crisis, that’s good. It just shouldn’t stop after the crisis. I think God is willing to be patient while we grow and gives us lots of chances. So, even if we do stop praying after the crisis and only take up prayer for the next one, it’s better than not praying at all. Still, it’s not much of a relationship if we only spend time on it when we feel we are in trouble.

That seems judgmental and I’d really rather not judge someone’s prayer life. Inherent in the question you originally asked, I think, is a consciousness that our relationship should be deeper than asking for help in a crisis. I think that has to be right. But if your prayer life goes from nothing to something, that’s good too.


Thank you.

Sickness and poverty are temporal/material conditions, not spiritual; unless we are talking about spiritual sickness and spiritual poverty. It is acceptable for you to seek divine assistance for yourself in those temporal/material situations, but pray that God helps you in these ways if it would be pleasing to Him, or if it would be His will to alleviate these problems. God bless you.

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