Many of us have become so wrapped up in this material world we think of God as more of a Santa Claus figure than as a God whose primary concern is our soul, the values we adopt, and where we will spend eternity.
Jesus constantly taught our first priority must be the kingdom of God. In Matthew 6 Jesus tells us not to worry about what we will wear and what we will eat. He did not say that he would always provide clothes and food for us. His examples of God providing for the birds and plant life demonstrate that. Birds do die of starvation and plant life does die because of droughts. His point was that material needs are of secondary importance.
How many of us have our spiritual lives as our first priority? When we make a request of God do we request the fruits of the Spirit, namely love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control (Galatians 5:22-23) or do we ask for more material wealth such as a house, a new car, a vacation, or a better paying job? There is nothing wrong in talking about our material needs with God but the issue is our priorities.
What is the purpose for prayer? Most of our prayers consist of asking God to give us material things, asking God to help us get our way, or asking God to bypass the laws of nature (which much of the time is to avoid the consequences of our decisions). We want a Santa Claus God who gives us what we want. Jewish tradition provides a better guide for our prayers: “Prayer is concerned with energizing the means so as to achieve ends of worth”.  Prayer should be more about changing ourselves than about obtaining things. If we ask God to change us that is one prayer he will always answer.
What Kind of People Are We?
God has given us free will. If we are to ever mature in our material and spiritual lives, we must learn to make decisions on our own and accept the consequences of those choices. We also experience the impact of the decisions of others which can be beneficial or detrimental to us. God’s main involvement in our world is to persuade us to adopt those values which he knows will make us better persons and if we become better persons this world will become a better place. Most of the good that occurs in this world is because people adopt God’s values as their own. Most of the evil that occurs in our world is because people fail to adopt God’s values.
Why do we continue to believe God controls all aspects of our lives? There are two reasons and both involve our ego. First, we so often want God to deal with us in dramatic ways—through miracles. God’s method of dealing with us is less sensational. Elijah experienced the presence of God on the mountain of Horeb. As I Kings 19 tells us God was not in a powerful wind, God was not in an earthquake, God was not in a fire. God was in a gentle whisper. Most of us are so busy looking for God in dramatic events on our earth that we have failed to hear God’s gentle whisper. Second, we want God involved in all aspects of this world because we do not want to face the sinfulness of our soul. We humans have an enormous responsibility for the evil and suffering that exists in this world because we are the ones who inflict so much of it upon each other. We murder each other, we enjoy all manner of luxuries while others starve, we do not follow the example of the Good Samaritan when others are hurting, we torture and kill each other sometimes even for what we perceive to be a good cause. Whether through acts of commission or acts of omission, we (and that includes us Christians) perpetuate the evil in our world. By making God responsible for the events in our world, we hope to avoid our responsibility by saying it is out of our control.
 Harold M. Schulweis, For Those Who Can’t Believe (New York: HarperPerennial, 1994), p. 33.