Saturday, February 20, 2010

Day 4 of Lent :: Learning to Give

“But when you give to the needy…”
Matthew 6:3

In Love in a Fearful Land, Henri Nouwen writes, “Prayer is the way to both the heart of God and the heart of the world – precisely because they have been joined through the suffering of Jesus Christ… Praying is letting one’s own heart become the place where the tears of God’s children merge and become the tears of hope.”

For Jesus, fasting, praying and giving weren’t isolated disciplines, rather they were, in many ways interconnected. Fasting frees up our time to pray. Praying heightens our awareness of God’s present activity not only within us, but in those around us in the world. Fasting loosens our hold on things, even frees up resources so that we’re more willing to give to those in need. Thus, the cyclical interconnectedness of fasting, praying and giving continues.

Giving, Jesus teaches, means making the needs of others our own, especially the needy of our world. They are all around us: the young and the old, the sick and the suffering, families and individuals, next-door neighbors, and people in distant lands.

It’s easy to forget them. What if, rather than just looking out for ourselves over the next several weeks, we asked God for eyes to see those in need and a heart to generously respond?

What shall we give? Some time, some of our talent, material resources, perhaps. Giving is not just for the rich. Poor or rich, we all have something to give. Whatever we give, though, should be something of ourselves, something that costs us. Paradoxically, Jesus also teaches, when we give, we receive some blessing from God in return.


God I want to worship you through giving to others. I long to have a generous heart. Break the power of greed and selfishness in my life. Give me eyes to see those in need. Make me aware of the opportunities around me that you want me to respond to with what You have given to me.

List the gifts that have been given to you that you have overlooked or minimized. Write a prayer of thanksgiving for all these blessings. Nurture your sincere appreciation. Sincere gratitude is often the front porch for generous giving.

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