Giving thanks is an important part of how we interact with God. Being thankful to God, in a way, is choosing to be vulnerable, releasing our concepts of control in our lives over to him. While giving thanks often takes place around a meal or in our personal prayers, it’s worth thinking about thanksgiving as more than an act, but a state of the heart and constant outpouring. Throughout the Psalms we see countless instances of giving constant thanks with the entirety of the heart. Psalm 86:12 is a great example—”I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever,”—as is Psalm 9:1. Sometimes being thankful is hard. We have days where we can’t see the good things God has provided for us. We can be envious of what others have and feel like we’re coming up short on things to be thankful for. If we want to live more thankful lives, we need to put a few things into practice.
1. Think of the gospel and evaluate your mindset
Are you too wrapped up in your day-to-day challenges to see the good things God has placed in your life? It might be time to evaluate your mindset.
If you need a place to start, there is no greater thing to be thankful for than the work of Christ on the Cross.
The gospel is larger than your discomforts, hardships, arguments, and short-comings. 1 Peter 2:24 says, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” It’s impossible to imagine a more stunning act of love. This, first and foremost, is what we should be thankful for each day.
2. Open prayers with giving thanks
Beginning a prayer with, “Thank you, Lord . . .” is a humbling way to acknowledge God’s work in our lives and our dependence on him. It’s a simple, yet powerful act of gratitude that’s important in any prayer life.
3. Make a daily list of what you’re thankful for
Creating a list of things you’re thankful for focuses your attention and time on identifying God’s blessings and how he is working in your life. Try keeping a list for one week—you might be surprised at how this practice shapes your outlook on gratitude.
Get specific with your list. When you ask yourself, “What am I thankful for?” do you default to broad categories? “Family?” “Friends?” “God?” These are all great things to be thankful for, but what if you drilled down deeper to more specific events, people, and happenings? You can be thankful for your friends, but more specifically, how a particular friend supported you through a rough day and gave you much-needed words of wisdom in the situation. To take this a step further, let others know you are thankful for their friendship, fellowship, love, etc.
4. Quit the comparison game
Constantly comparing yourself to others is an unhealthy habit that’s bound to leave you feeling like you’re coming up short in some way. We were all created with different gifts, abilities, and life stories. It’s inevitable that our blessings, and what we are thankful for, will vary. We are able to have a thankful heart when we focus on our relationship with God and what he is doing in our lives—not what others have or appear to have. Don’t let your focus on someone else’s blessings diminish yours or your ability to see the good things God has provided for you.
Thankfulness is always in season. If you need a resource to help you focus on giving thanks to God, A Collection of Thanksgiving Blessings is just 99 cents on Vyrso through November 30.