How prayer leads to generosity.
One of the most important truths that we find in the Bible about giving is that it's not something we have to do. It's not a rule that we have to follow. It's not a good work that will lead to our being accepted by God. It is not something that we can use to earn our righteousness. What it says is that much like praise, generosity is a joyful overflow of the grace of God that has been poured into our lives.
We see this explicitly in 2 Corinthians 8:1-2 - We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Maedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.
Simply stated, our generosity is a result of God's generosity. The more radically generous we are, the more we display the great reality that everything we have comes straight from the Father of Lights (James 1:17).
Likewise, the New Testiment also says that God loves a cheerful giver. This doesn't mean that as you part ways with your precious stuff you better be happy about it or it doesn't count. What it means is that God wants our giving to be a joyful overflow of praise; not something we do out of compulsion or some sense of duty.
How then does one receive this "abundance of joy" which overflows in a "wealth of generosity?" Psalm 16:11 answers, "You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." There you have it then. It's a simple formula: Stay in the presence of God and let his grace overflow in your life through joyful generosity. Done!
Ok, maybe it's not that simple. If we're honest, we must admit that our hearts don't always run toward God every morning, noon, and night to bask in His presence. Like the writer says in the old hymn, Come Thou Fount, "Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love." There is a universal problem in each one of us whether we like to admit it or not: We're drifters. And unless we are fighting the good fight of the faith to take hold of everything God has for us in Christ, we will naturally fall away.
So, what are we supposed to do then? What can we do to fight against this propensity in our hearts to drift away from God's presence? The prophet Jeremiah offers some help in Jeremiah 31:18, "I have surely heard Ephraim's moaning: You disciplined me like an unruly calf, and I have been disciplined. Restore me, and I will return, because you are the Lord my God." Later in Lamentations 5:21 he says, "Restore us to yourself, Lord that we may return; renew our days as of old." These are actually prayers to God and what they say is this: "Cause me to return to your presence and I will return to your presence." Just like the writer of the hymn Come Thou Fount goes on to say, "Here's my heart, oh, take and seal it, Seal it for Thy courts above."
Yes, joyful generosity is an overflow that results from being in the presence of God. And, yes, maybe you've drifted from His presence. But if you truly desire to be in His presence again, perhaps you have not because you ask not. Pray to the God of grace as Jeremiah does. Ask God to cause your heart to return and see what happens. God is faithful and He hears the cry of your heart.