While Americans are often viewed as generous, we could argue that’s stretching the truth a bit. Our lives are too busy and our consumption habits are too vast for us to think about anyone else more than we think about ourselves.
This shouldn’t be too surprising. After all, America is one of the most affluent countries in the world. With that affluence comes a multitude of innocent and not-so-innocent distractions. Those distractions muffle out God’s voice and blind us to the needs of others.
Fortunately, God knows us and our flaws very well. That’s why He frequently tells us in scripture to pray and fast. He does it so we can reset our hearts and focus on what’s important. Not only that, He wants us to act generously while we fast. We see examples of this call to action in the following verse:
Isaiah 58:7 – What I’m interested in seeing you do [while fasting] is: sharing your food with the hungry, inviting the homeless poor into your homes, putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad, being available to your own families. (The Message)
The generosity mentioned in this verse are pivotal any time, but it is extra important during a season of prayer and fasting. Here’s why:
Fasting Leads to Added Time and Financial Margin
The margin gained from fasting may not be obvious until we give it try. However, the margin gained is exceptional.
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For example, let’s say you skip lunch for 21 straight days. If you usually spend $5 per day for lunch, that’s $105 saved. That $105 can now be donated to a local food bank for people who are on hard times. If you normally take an hour for lunch, that’s an hour gained that can be spent in prayer or volunteerism.
Fasting creates space in our lives for God to move within us and for Him to lead us to take action. When we fast, we surrender a new portion of our time and finances for God to use according to His will.
Prayer Leads to Added Awareness
Prayer in conjunction with fasting reduces our self-centeredness and increases our awareness of others. That’s because prayer and fasting help unclog our ears to hear God’s voice. And when we hear God’s voice, it often points towards serving others. When we’re able to vibrantly see the needs of others, generosity is a natural by-product.
What Generosity Looks Like
Generosity comes in all shapes and sizes. We know that God asks us to be generous with our finances, and that will be a natural desire of our heart when we spend time in prayer and fasting. But on top of that, we can be generous with our time, with our kindness, with our skills, with our encouragement, with our wisdom. There is no limit on the blessings we can pout into the lives of others when the well that is sourcing us is our Heavenly Father.
What are You Waiting For?
What if you feel you’re already plenty generous? Well, it’s a guarantee that you don’t truly know your capacity for generosity until you’ve prayed and fasted. Put yourself to the test and find out what you’re really made of. You’ll be glad you did.