It was a machine, gleaming and metallic, before which they moved.
A man inserted a coin into the mouth of a steel tiger. The machine began to purr. He pressed buttons cast in the likenesses of animals and demons. There came then a flashing of lights along the lengths of the Nagas, the two holy serpents who twisted about the transparent face of the machine.
The man drew down upon the lever that grew from the side of the machine cast in the likeness of the tail of a fish.
A holy blue light filled the interior of the machine; the serpents pulsed redly; and there, in the midst of the light and a soft music that had begun to play a prayer wheel swung into view and began spinning at a furious pace.
The man wore a beatific expression.
(Read more quotes about the Pray-o-Mat)
Update: Thanks to our friends at Frolix_8, I have found another reference - maybe better - from Philip K. Dick's exquisite 1969 novel Galactic Pot-Healer.
Getting ready to leave Earth, Joe Fernwright is seized by doubt. Who could he consult at a moment's notice in any spaceport?
Getting to his feet he crossed the waiting room to the Padre booth; inside he put a dime into the slot and dialed at random. The marker came to rest at Zen.
"Tell me your torments," the Padre said, in an elderly voice marked with compassion. And slowly; it spoke as if there were no rush, no pressures. All was timeless.
(Read more quotes from Dick's padre booth)
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 6/28/2010)