In his book, My Name Is Hope, John Mark Comer contrasts “vending machine prayers” with “prayers in Jesus’ name.” When applied to marriage, the analogy is quite illuminating.
John Mark writes, “Vending machine prayers sound like, ‘God, my marriage is a wreck. Fix my marriage. Make me happy with my spouse.
“Prayers in Jesus’ name sound like, ‘God my marriage needs your healing Spirit. Please transform me from the inside out and help me to love my wife.”
Which prayer sounds most mature to you? Which prayer is most likely to lead to spiritual enlightenment? Which prayer is most likely to lead to a marriage that honors God and is ultimately more satisfying?
Pray that prayer.
Another vending machine prayer would be, “God I’m so frustrated about the lack of meaningful sex in my marriage. Would you please fix my wife/husband and make her/him care?”
A prayer in Jesus’ name might be, “Lord, help me to become the kind of loving spouse my husband/wife desires to be intimate with. Show me any hurts or actions that might be hindering our intimacy, and lead us toward a place of generosity and service in this area.”
The right kind of prayer can be so effective, but some “prayer” really isn’t prayer. It’s complaining. It will never change you or your marriage. When a couple comes to me for an hour of “pastoral counseling” and spend the first 50 minutes talking, they don’t leave with much, frankly. Prayer can be just like that. God doesn’t need our “information.” What he needs are humble hearts willing to listen and to be transformed.
We have a lot of readers on this blog so I want to ask your assistance to “finish” this blog post. Just as John Mark gave an example of a common vending machine prayer, and then offered the alternative “prayer in Jesus’ name,” will you take the time to do the same in the comments section? Write out a typical “vending machine prayer” as it relates to marriage and family, and then write out the better “prayer in Jesus’ name.”
I’ve never tried this before—asking readers to write the blogpost. But I know from past comments we have many godly, wise, and gifted readers. So this could be fun…