Holiness leads us to prayer, and prayer helps us to be holy. Prayer focuses us. It reframes our minds so we are fuller of God’s love and less likely to step away from God. Prayer can help us feel gratitude, humility, empathy, and compassion. It can help us be more generous. Prayer ensures we tune our hearts to God and the things that matter to him.
Not too long ago, I was agitated with my wife over a couple of small things—the kind so minor that, when you look back, you feel ashamed about making a big deal out of nothing, if you can even remember what it was about. That evening before dinner, I prayed silently, “God, please help me be more generous to my wife. Help me to be gentle and kind to her, and understanding.” In this case, I was praying for generosity in love. I then had a realization about generosity. I needed to pray to be generous, to ask God to help me be generous in big and small ways. On my own, I fail.
I believe being generous can make us happier. But I’ll tell you a secret. I’m afraid to ask God to help me be generous about how to help others. I feel I’ll have a big responsibility I won’t want to accept. What will God ask me to do? What will be my response? It’s a scary thing, talking to God about being generous.
Through prayer, we communicate with God. He speaks to us, quiets our minds. Through prayer, we ask for his help. We ask God to intervene, to do things for us we cannot do for ourselves. Yet, prayer also does something else. It changes us. Søren Kierkegaard and other theologians and pastors have emphasized how prayer can change the pray-er. In prayer, we tune into the heart of God, and this has the potential to change us. Shouldn’t it? As pray-ers, shouldn’t we be growing closer to God? Shouldn’t we change as we ask God to answer our prayers?
Through prayer, we can change as we enter into an experience where our thoughts are aligned with God’s desires. If we think of prayer as changing us, just as it can move God, then praying can also move us to develop a closer connection with people living in poverty, as God suffers along with those who experience difficulties. This helps us fight the beast of resistance within us that tells us not to be generous. It leads us to better help those in need.
Praying for generosity can change our hearts so we see opportunities to be generous as opportunities to share some of what we have been given. Of course, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be smart in what we give or to whom we give it. Discernment and wisdom are key aspects of giving wisely.
As we think and pray about those in need, we should remember that most people who are experiencing extreme poverty live in countries we’ll never visit and villages we don’t know exist. Prayer not only draws us to God; it can also help us feel closer to others, including those we’ll never see. Praying can tie our hearts closer to the heart of God so we feel more sensitive to the needs of others, more aware of how to help them. Prayer helps develop within us an emotional and spiritual connection with people living in poverty, which can lead us to being generous. It helps us stay holy.