Is The Cosmic Vending Machine Empty?

by Colleen Donahue

The news was going on in the background as I got ready to leave for work. It was the "morning after" another horrific shooting at one of our schools -- 17 students dead and 15 more in the hospital. Tweets and good sentiments were flying from the president and officials of all kinds -- "We're praying for the victim's families and the community of Parkland." Then came the line that arrested me. The newscaster said, "We have been praying and that is clearly not enough. We need to DO something!"

As a nation we have for decades gone after our own pursuits and forgot WHO it was that made us great in the first place. What do we mean when we say we have been praying? At best I would suggest that we are rising up good thoughts towards those who need it. And once a few good thoughts "go up" what are we expecting? Is God our cosmic vending machine that has gone dry?

"We need to DO something!" The newscaster was right on that front. God wants us to DO something but it's quite different from what she had in mind. God clearly lays out what we are to do in this passage of the Bible: "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and heal their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV

Notice WHO God is speaking to. He isn't talking to the general unbeliever or even the casual believer doing his or her own thing. He's talking to "my people who are called by my name. He's talking with the true believers who are in this nation. And he's telling us (as I include myself) something we don't want to hear. WE need to "turn from OUR wicked ways and only then will God hear US from heaven, forgive OUR sin and heal OUR land."

Of course this surprises us! Don't we think as believers that WE are the salt and the light of this nation? Don't we think that we are the ones holding it all together? But God doesn't play games with his words. He sees every selfish pursuit we have for ourselves, and our own family regardless of what others might be facing. He has told all men to seek first HIS kingdom and HIS righteousness (Matthew 6:33) but instead he has seen unprecedented greed and self-indulgence in homes and churches across the nation.

It's way past time that we DO something and that "something" is spelled out by God clearly. First, he directs people calling themselves believers to humble THEMSELVES, then pray and seek his face. Many have self-righteously prayed for others lost in their sin while they themselves are sitting in the same cesspool. But God is saying that when WE humble ourselves then he'll tell us what he sees in our lives that is blocking our prayers. We'll have a clear picture of what WE need to confess and when we do God promises to forgive our sin and heal our land.

God is NOT a cosmic vending machine that is empty. He is a loving Father that wants his children to live daily with him in seeing his will done on earth as it is being done in Heaven. Without a clear and clean relationship with our Heavenly Father our "so-called prayers" will be mere words bouncing off the clouds.

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