Is God your Cosmic Vending Machine?

I read that title phrase, "Cosmic Vending Machine", in a Fox News article that asks the question "Is it OK to pray for your team to win Super Bowl 2012?" Here is a clip from it:
A kind of religious transaction where he gives God the glory and God gives touchdowns. Or victories. Or Super Bowls. A fair exchange?

God ends up becoming a cosmic vending machine.

Everything is well and good until Jesus makes you fumble.
We love to think God takes our side. Roots for our teams. It’s part of our American DNA.

To paraphrase Anne Lamott: You know you’ve created God in your own image when God roots for all the same teams you root for (I’m looking at you Yankee and Cowboy fans).

Here’s my short answer. Based on Christian scripture and practical experience, the purpose of prayer is for God to win. Not for you to win. Or your favorite team. Even if you are from Cleveland—though if anyone has a shot, God just might be rooting for you, Cleveland.

Millions of people all over the world will tune into the Super Bowl tonight.

God’s probably not concerned with who wins the Super Bowl. God’s consumed by working on behalf of the usher who can’t figure out how to pay his chemo bill. Or the player going through a divorce. Or the assistant coach who lost his son to suicide. Or the trainer wrestling a gambling addiction. Or the recent immigrant, trying to pay one more bill by cleaning up the confetti that falls in Lucas Oil stadium.

God sees the whole stadium, not the final score.
I love that last statement. I think that we all know how foolish it is to pray for our team to win but I wonder how many of us think about praying for those who hurt the most? Maybe we will if we can see God as more than a Cosmic Vending Machine who exists to help us win Super Bowls?


  1. Bob, I love your thoughts here. Love your blog. It reminded of my own silly magical superstitious thinking that if I watch, and I pick a team to root for, which always makes it more fun, then I will surely make that team more likely to lose, just by my rooting for them. How's that for an example of thinking the world revolves around me? Ha! I know I'm not the only who thinks that. Anyway, I love reading your blog and you have a great perspective. Keep up the good work. Heather

    1. I can so relate Heather! I have also had silly superstitions like that! Never thought of it as a form of narcissism though. Thanks for the comment and the encouragement!

  2. Any follow up now that the "Super bowl" is over?
    Strange name though IMO as a non US person. Is the winning trophy in the shape of a bowl?
    Though not as "exaggerated" as US baseball's "World series" or the beauty pageant "Miss Universe" :-)

    1. We Americans are a bit full of ourselves when it comes to naming our championships Paul. The Super Bowl trophy is a silver (chrome?) football mounted on a tallish platform.

  3. Amen! :-)

    I like the new blog look :-)


  4. how true is that?somehow, we thought of God as the Genie from the lamp, the way i see it.


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