41 He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. 42 A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. 43 Then he called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. 44 For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, her whole living.”
– Mark 12: 41-44
I’ve been praying with this verse for a while now. Something about this story resonated deep in my heart and as I began to explore it further, inviting the Lord to teach me, I was given the eyes to see myself as this poor widow.
My life has again changed substantially in the last few months, and adjusting to this change has had its ups and downs. I spend countless hours studying and doing school work each day outside of the classroom. It is exactly what I expected in terms of the work load, but unfortunately, I have struggled to maintain a consistent prayer life. I wrestle with this idea every single week, and more often than not, I feel guilty for not spending more time in the church, or praying more of the Divine Office each day.
You see, as a missionary, I spent upwards of 4 hours praying in the church each day, and it was easy to be reminded of Jesus throughout the day because my whole work was centered on talking about things of Faith with students and parishioners. I was “giving out my abundance”.
And while I was working at the PT clinic, I had much more control of my schedule — I perfected my daily routine to a science, and was blessed with the opportunity for lots of prayer time throughout my day. Again, giving out of my abundance.
Now, I’m in grad school, and every single day looks different. From the amount of time I’m in class to the amount of studying or reading I have to do outside of class– no two days are similar. I’m sure many of you can relate when I say that this makes it very difficult to maintain a consistent prayer life. Just like an athlete needs a regular training routine, so do we in our spiritual life. Not having a daily routine is like trying to swim upstream in Jell-o.
But, the Lord in his abundant generosity, has been teaching me about offerings with this beautiful Widow. Because sometimes I fall under the world’s spell that tells me “bigger is better” or “more is better”. But this isn’t true when it comes to Jesus. It is easy to let ourselves be convinced that our small offering of prayer won’t make any difference for our spiritual life. “If I can’t do a full Holy Hour, I might as well just not go at all, right?” WRONG.
Although my current state in life doesn’t allow for spending hours in front of the tabernacle each day, I am still called to make an offering. My offering of worship may seem small in comparison to what I’m used giving, or compared to what some of my friends do each day. But this doesn’t change the fact that I still have an obligation to give of myself in this relationship with Jesus. Now, I am simply called to give to the Lord out of my poverty. My poverty of time and energy and even poverty of spirit, some days.
This small offering is celebrated by my King, and so I shall not despise the fact that the gift itself is small. It matters to Jesus. I cannot withhold my gift of self to Him simply because I wish it were more. God sees my heart and knows my ability to give.
It is also important, that while I struggle through this each day, I remember that God doesn’t need my prayers or my worship or my love. I give these things to God because I need to honor Him and worship Him and love Him. My prayers don’t add anything to His greatness, but they certainly make me more aware of His greatness.
Like the widow, I am not excused from sacrificing myself for Jesus. And just like the widow, the Lord favors my offerings, despite their littleness. I must learn how to offer my work as my gift to Him, sharing with Him the little moments of my day; offering myself to Him during the anatomy lectures and journal article reviews. I have to be okay with letting these things be my two small coins for now.
If you are struggling this summer in keeping to your prayer life, start small. Don’t sell yourself short by comparing your prayer life to anyone else’s! (On the flip side, don’t give too little and make up excuses for it either!) Be confident that the Lord sees your efforts and rejoices. Continue giving of yourself, and fight those temptations from the world that tell you that if you can’t give all of yourself, why even give a little?
Keep the Faith!
“She, out of her poverty, has put in everything she had, her whole living.”