When I was a kid, my Sunday School teacher asked if I had any questions about prayer. I asked if God cared about the Knicks. He said God cared very much for the Knicks. But even if I prayed for the Knicks, there would be other children praying for the other team. So God probably couldn’t intervene in basketball games. (Which explains why the Knicks are so bad).
How Prayer is Like Charity
But if prayer isn’t about getting what you want, then what in the world are you talking to God for? Later in life I figured it out.
In college, I was very stressed planning a group trip to a Christian concert. (Yes, my life is quite embarrassing). And my friend said he would pray for me. Rather than pray that the details of the concert would go off without a hitch, he prayed that I would be released from worry.
It was from this prayer that I understood that prayer isn’t about getting stuff from God. Rather, prayer is about changing one’s mind to become more like God. Prayer was about teaching yourself to focus on the things that mattered.
I think charity is as misunderstood a concept as prayer. People think prayer is about getting stuff for yourself; it’s really about changing your mind. Likewise, charity isn’t about giving stuff to others; it’s about changing your mind.
Why budget for charity?
MsZiyou raised an interesting point in my last post – reasons why not to give to charity.
I don’t give to big institutionalized charitable organizations. I refuse even to give to my alma mater state school, which pays its dean $400k.
Just because something is called a charity, doesn’t mean it’s doing any good. Charities might not be solving problems at all, might not be solving problems in an efficient or competent way and some may actually be creating more and worse problems. Still, despite these caveats, I think charity is an integral part of one’s budget. That’s because it’s not about supporting an organization, but about devoting a portion of your budget to help people other than your self.