When I glanced at my bank account balance the other day, I noticed several monthly gifts and offerings had been deducted as usual.

No big deal. I began to move down my to-do list like any other day, but something stopped me.

For the first time in a while, I actually thought about where the money was going. And then I wondered why it rarely occurred to me to pray about it.

Somewhere along the line, between the ease of auto pay and the rush of everyday life, I had become robotic in my giving. Sure, I was doing my part financially to stand up for what I believe in. But an atheist can do that, too.

What Sets Us Apart?

While we’re giving generously to causes close to God’s heart—taking care of the poor, widowed and orphaned and spreading the hope of Christ—people who reject faith are also giving generously. But too often, they’re giving to causes that break God’s heart.

So how can we stand out? By out-giving everyone else? No, I think it’s going to take more than money to capture the attention of this broken world with the love of Jesus.

Of course we need to give—not just our leftover morsels but our first and best. But we also need to harness the power of prayer, remembering that it’s God, not us, who makes every gift effective.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 instructs us to “pray without ceasing.” Let’s keep that in mind even as we view our bank balances or drop a check into the offering plate.

1 Timothy 2:1 tells us to pray for all people. “Ask God to help them,” it says. “Intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.” Let’s make sure we’re not just praying for our own families, but for the families God connects us with through our giving.

Checks, Cash and Prayers

When we buy a backpack for a school supplies drive, let’s pray for the student who will receive it. When we sponsor a child close to home or on the other side of the world, let’s make a daily commitment to pray for her. And when we see our tithe deducted from our bank account, let’s pray for our church, our pastor, and the people who will benefit from the gift we’ve given.

Anyone can donate to a good cause. What distinguishes the gift of a Christian from that of a Buddhist, Muslim or atheist? Jesus. And the all-surpassing power He has to hear and answer our prayers.

Our God is alive. He’s still acting on behalf of His people. And He’s able to bless and amplify our gifts—however large or small—to advance His Kingdom. Now that’s something to be excited about.

“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!” –John 14:12-14 (NLT)

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About Kristy Etheridge

Kristy Etheridge is a regular contributor to the FaithWorks Financial blog. Having racked up a large amount of debt before using a biblical approach to attack it, Kristy is passionate about financial freedom. She and her husband live in Charlotte, N.C., where Kristy works as a writer for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.