Lord Jesus, Teach Me to Be Generous

Prayer for Generosity - "Lord Jesus, teach me to be generous" line highlighted

We’ve invited our dotMagis bloggers to reflect on the individual lines of the Prayer for Generosity, attributed to St. Ignatius.

Teach me not to be stingy, God. Instruct me in ways that avoid greed. Jesus, you know how hard it is for me to pray this. I have so much, and I like my stuff. Do I really want to let you heal me from a lack of generosity?

Yesterday I went through my closet looking for something special to wear to a wedding. The first choice was a definite no. Even though it was a bit tight, back into the closet it went, because I might lose weight, right? The second dress wasn’t dressy enough. The third option might be a bit out of style, but I wore it on a special occasion, so I vacillated before returning it to my closet. I knew I really ought to give away at least one of these dresses, but I had trouble letting go.

This morning the scrupulosity kicked in, and I recalled a harsh quote from St. Basil the Great: “The coat that lies in your chest is stolen from the naked, the shoes that rot in your house are stolen from the person who goes unshod, the money you laid aside is stolen from the poverty-stricken.”

But before I give myself an “F” in generosity, I remember that I am generous with my time and energy. I’m willing to share my talents. Generosity involves all three: time, talent, and treasure.

Where is my treasure? Teach me, Lord. Suddenly I hear Jesus: “Did you notice that widow donating a few cents?” We are passing the treasury. (Mark 12:41–44) “Of course you noticed the rich man; he was so ostentatious, making a big show of his gift,” Jesus says.

He pulls me by the hand, a little closer, so I can hear what he is about to say. I use my five senses to notice the scene. I am surrounded by disciples, leaning in. “Now that’s what I call generosity,” Jesus says, in a hushed tone amidst lots of commotion around us. “She gave her whole livelihood, putting the needs of others before her own.”

I’m not sure I understand why her gift was equivalent to all the others, and then some. What can her two cents buy? Jesus tells me to flip my thinking. “It’s not what her gift will buy; it’s what her gift says about the intention of her big heart.”

I ponder my own intentions. “Look around you,” Jesus says. “What do you see?” Jesus is asking me to pay attention. If only I could do a better job of that. “Follow my example,” Jesus says. “Do what I do.”

I realize that the old stuff in my closet really isn’t my greatest asset. My time is.

Jesus, you go the extra mile. (Matthew 5:41) You forgive. You teach generosity using metaphors and people around me whose stories are rich. To be generous means offering words that encourage and performing loving actions.Subscribe to dotMagis, the blog of Ignatian Spirituality

With you, I can do it, dear Jesus.

Previous articleShining in Their Smiles
Next articleTrust in the Poor Jesus
Loretta Pehanich is a Catholic freelance writer and author of Fleeting Moments: Praying When You Are Too Busy. Loretta has six years experience as a spiritual director and was trained in giving the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. She is also a workshop presenter and retreat leader on Ignatian spirituality and prayer. Loretta is a founder of Women’s Ministry at St. Francis in Sacramento, CA. With more than 20 years in ministry, including Christian Life Community (CLC) and small group leadership, Loretta is an expert in being busy. She and her husband Steve have four children and 10 grandchildren.

8 COMMENTS

  1. Loretta,

    Thanks very much. Your prayer is much more Ignatian than the so-called St. Ignatius Prayer for Generosity, which flies in the face of what he taught (i.e., be generous but be prudent; he wasn’t in the years right after his conversion and thus ruined his heath). As Jesuit General he insisted on ‘villa’ or vacations outside the city for the scholastics.

    All good blessings,

    Joe

    • Thank you, Joe!
      Being prudent includes balance, and ruining ones health isn’t what God wants for any of us.
      Mini-vacations, or minute vacations are also a good idea when work gets overwhelming.
      God’s peace!
      Loretta

  2. Thank you for the reminder. I used to think that donating a lot of money was what I was supposed to do for Jesus. When I started realizing that my time was so precious to me and I was selfish with it. I am a work in progress on giving of myself and my time.

  3. Nice thoughts. Thanks. Generosity in the real sense can be exhausting. It’s a nice prayer that replenishes the lost energies through wear and tear.

  4. “The coat that lies in your chest is stolen from the naked, the shoes that rot in your house are stolen from the person who goes unshod, the money you laid aside is stolen from the poverty-stricken.”

    To that I’d add: ‘The time you waste is time that could be used to help another’ For me that’s the most difficult treasure to give away.

    • If each person in the U.S. said one extra kind word, did one extra kind deed, and overlooked one rude remark, what a different country this could be!
      THanks for your thoughts, Caren.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here