Tag Archives: gift-giving

Prayer, Gift-Giving, Control.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, June 13, 2018

man in prayer, silhouette

Prayer, Gift-Giving, Control.

What a punch in the gut! Seriously, Father Nouwen’s words can really pack a punch.

He speaks truth. When you or I give something to someone, whether we want to or not, we often find ourselves in a superior position. Manipulating others, whether we want to or not. Such an eye-opening realization, giving “gifts” to an inferior person.

I certainly do not mean to cast dispersions on all gift-giving. No! Sometimes, gift-giving comes from a sincere love for the other person, a feeling of gratitude, an honest desire to give a loved one something, or some combination of these reasons. However, not always…

Lord, are You talking to me? Is there something that You want me to get through my thick skull? (Sometimes, a two by four to the head is the only way the message from God sinks in…)

Good grief. I have no words. I want to particularly think about these following words from Fr. Nouwen: “When you give, you are master of the situation, you can dole out the goods to those you think deserving. You have control over the surroundings and you can enjoy the power your possessions give you.” [1]

However, if I truly want to be humble, I need to prepare my self and my heart to accept. To receive. “Ultimately, a gift becomes a gift only when it is accepted.” [2] When I finally find myself willing to accept gifts, food, drink, other tangible things, it is then and only then that I have gratitude in my heart. Otherwise, “many people are even embarrassed with a present because they know of no way they can reciprocate. ‘It makes me feel obligated,’ they say.” [3]

Dear Lord, this is a weighty problem, and no mistake. I don’t want to feel obligated. Yet, I know there are some people who joyfully and willingly give gifts! Gracious God, help me to find the graciousness to accept gifts, as well as the wisdom to decide when and where I might willingly and lovingly give gifts. Thanks for Your grace and power, and wisdom from on high. In Jesus’ powerful name we pray, amen.



Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] With Open Hands: Bring Prayer into Your Life, Henri J. M. Nouwen (United States of America: Ave Maria Press, 1972), 29.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid, 30.

What Can I Give?

matterofprayer blog post for Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Only two more weeks until the Big Day. Christmas, I mean. Gift-giving, galore. Do I have presents for everyone on my list? My husband? Children? In-laws? And what about those others, the people I ought to give gifts to? Am I feeling little, niggling qualms of guilt because I am not able to give much this year, as I have in years past?

Gift-giving can be such a trap. When people use one-up-man-ship to gain a sort of superiority to others (“I gave a gift that cost twice as much as the gift I received!”), that’s when this whole business of gift-giving needs to be seriously overhauled.

Why do we give gifts, anyhow?

The custom of gift-giving reaches centuries back, before Christianity, to pagan festivals. For instance, Saturnalia—a Roman winter solstice festival—included giving and receiving of small gifts, tokens, or sweets. St. Nicholas (a bishop in 4th century Turkey) gave small gifts to children in December. This custom lessened as the Puritans frowned on excessive celebration, but came back with the popularization of Charles Dickens and his “Christmas Carol,” the increased Victorian celebration of Christmas, and the publishing of Clement Moore’s “A Visit from St. Nicholas.” All of these caused gift-giving to become firmly established once more.

So, I can give and receive gifts with joy in my heart—not with avarice or envy or bitterness. Another reason that we choose to give gifts? Because—we received the best gift of all, born in the town of Bethlehem—our Savior, Christ the Lord.

Let’s pray. God, thank You for the best gift of all. You wanted to reconcile us to Yourself, and You chose this way to do it. This Holy Child was be recognized as Emmanuel, God with us. Forgive me for not recognizing this Holy One. Forgive me for living a life that does not honor and adore Him as Christ the Lord. Thank You for loving me, forgiving me, and reconciling me to Yourself. Thank You for giving me the best Christmas gift of all. Amen.