HomeIgnatian PrayerTeach Me to Serve You as You Deserve

Teach Me to Serve You as You Deserve

Prayer for Generosity - "Teach me to serve you as you deserve" line highlighted

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

If we think of service as optional, something we do because we want to, then our service will depend on our emotions, rationale, and will.

  • I serve God because I’m feeling happy or grateful.
  • I serve God because I simply see it as the right thing to do.
  • I serve God because I have committed my life to God, and I believe in keeping my commitments.

Good feeling, right thinking, and determination are not bad motivations for serving God. But they can shift with circumstance and our own interior vacillations.

If we locate our motivation in God’s being and character, then our service will spring from what is constant and bigger than any personal feeling, thought, or determination.

  • We serve God because God is Creator of all and over all creation eternally.
  • We serve God because we know that everything we do is in service to something or someone, and God is the ultimate source and end point, our beginning and also our ending. Who else would we possibly serve?
  • We serve God because God’s compassion, mercy, and passionate love for us inspire feelings of gratitude, thoughts of serving as right and sensible, and the determination to return that love.

Deserve really isn’t the best word to use, because a created being could never return in equal measure what he or she has received from the Creator. We might edit this line of the prayer to: “Teach me to serve you in a way that demonstrates my recognition of who you are.”

Of course, we learn—day by day, and over time—who God is. Thus, our service evolves along with our relationship with God. We serve God according to who God is but also according to who we are—and who we are becoming.

Vinita Hampton Wright
Vinita Hampton Wrighthttp://www.loyolapress.com/authors/vinita-hampton-wright
Vinita Hampton Wright edited books for 32 years, retiring in 2021. She has written various fiction and non-fiction books, including the novel Dwelling Places and spirituality books Days of Deepening Friendship, The Art of Spiritual Writing, Small Simple Ways: An Ignatian Daybook for Healthy Spiritual Living, and, most recently, Set the World on Fire: A 4-Week Personal Retreat with the Female Doctors of the Church. Vinita is a spiritual director and continues to facilitate retreats and write fiction and nonfiction. She lives with her husband, two dogs, and a cat in Springdale, Arkansas.


  1. I was always taught that Faith and Good Works went hand in Hand,Faith without Good Works was just on! Well now I am too old and unwell to do the good works that was a normal part of my former life, so where does that leave me? I make donations to various Charities where hopefully the money goes to the right people and continue to pray. I read recently that one should not expect that by doing GOOD WORKS to expect any Brownie Points toward one’s after-life, as it is just what we are supposed to do. I am hoping that I can pass the test, even if is the last spot in Heaven , but I can’t count on it of course. A.M.D.G.

  2. This is true, CeeCee. I’m speaking of what is generally true for us, and I’m trying to help us find our motivation outside of mere feelings or duty. Having suffered clinical depression myself, I know that we can become incapacitated and feel that we have lost the ability to serve God in any fashion. I do agree with Therese, that you serve God in your search for healing. “Serve” is a rather limited term, and it does not really capture our whole experience of being with God and God being with us–in any situation or at any level of health or ability. I commend you for seeking help–God works through many resources: therapy, medication, meditation, prayer, and so on. Please excuse my phrasing for making you feel not part of things. Peace to you–Vinita

  3. The article about serving God, living for God always regardless of how we feel emotionally is spot on, I GUESS. I am a 66 year old single woman, who is probably clinically depressed. I will be seeking help on various issues. When one is depressesed, it is chemically i. e. physically impossible to do what you are suggesting in your article.


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