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Lottery Guy
Photo: Michael Roach
As I journeyed through graduate school at a Christian university in Michigan, I landed a part-time job as a phone chaplain on campus. My role, along with the other chaplains, was to offer spiritual and emotional support to callers via telephone. In addition, we operated an extensive Prayer Request Line that ministered to people throughout the U.S. and Canada.

In the course of this ministry, we received calls from many individuals with extremely challenging problems. Some of them became “regulars” and all the “chaps” knew them. One such person, I dubbed “lottery guy.” “Lottery guy” would call every weekend, and as soon as one of us would pick up the line, he would blurt out, “Pray that I’ll win the lottery!” He wouldn’t even offer any preliminaries such as, “I lost my job; I’m being evicted, or my child needs an operation.” No, he cut right to the chase with, “Pray that I’ll win the lottery!”

Now, I’m not quite sure how the other operators handled his calls but something inside me refused to budge at his demand. When I told him I didn’t feel comfortable offering a prayer like that, he immediately slammed the phone down, then dialed right back, hoping to connect with someone who would be more agreeable to his demands.

A Celestial Gumball Machine?

How about it? Was I too hard on “lottery guy?” Is God, in fact, a celestial gumball machine? Does the Almighty respond to our every whim by cranking out a prize for each desire?

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus had this to say to the crowd which had gathered to hear him: Which one of you will give your son a stone if he asks for bread? Or if he asks you for some fish, will you give him a snake? So, if you know how to give good gifts to your children, even though you are evil, how much more will God give good gifts to those who ask (Matthew 7:9-11, my paraphrase).

So, Jesus laid it out; God does want to give good gifts to those who ask! But, does that include winning the lottery? God is not an indulgent parent who spoils kids rotten. Our Creator is too smart for that! God is instead, like wise parents who carefully weigh the requests of their children before granting them. And, even though God loves to give us good gifts, the Almighty has never promised to give us everything we want. Instead, God has promised to supply all our needs (Phillippians 4:19).

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By Kathy A. Lewis. Copyright © 2013 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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