28 Days of Prayer
- A spirit of gratitude
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
Jesus modeled what it means to be a grateful person. Gratitude is like the signature written across His life. In Luke 10:21, He says “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth” The Apostle Paul, too, knew the spirit of gratitude. He wrote in Romans 1:8 “I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you.” Throughout the New Testament, we are encouraged to speak with one voice, as it says in Ephesians 5:20, giving “thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
There are some beautiful pictures of gratitude in the New Testament. Think of the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears of gratitude. Remember how moved Jesus was by her simple devotion! Think of the woman who anointed Jesus’ head with expensive perfume. Jesus was touched by her lavish act of gratitude!
Perhaps you remember the story in Luke 17, where Jesus healed ten lepers as they ran to show themselves to the priests, but only one leper came back to offer gratitude. The Bible says, “When he saw that he was healed, he turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks.” Isn’t that a beautiful picture? I want to be like that leper who was overcome with gratitude to God.
You know, parents work really hard to teach their children the habit of gratitude. They remind them constantly to say please and thank you. The same thing is true for us. Thanksgiving is seldom the first word in our minds, or on our lips. We all need help to move into a deeper, fuller spirit of gratitude.
One way to cultivate a habit of gratitude is to recognize the simple gifts that come our way day by day. The cooler autumn air in the evenings, the hummingbirds getting ready for their trip south, the extraordinary color of the leaves on the trees as they begin to change. The gift of a pleasant, helpful voice. The satisfaction of arriving home from a day at work. There is always something to be grateful for – food, home, clothes, life itself – for all these and more we can practice gratitude.
Yet, it’s so easy to complain, isn’t it? Complaining comes naturally to us. We can complain about anything! We live in a culture that’s driven by wants and demands. One tool that can help transform a complaining heart is thanksgiving. Not surprisingly, if I replace my habit of complaining, or my habit of viewing the world as half empty, with the opposing virtues of gratitude and thanksgiving, then over time, God in His mercy will place gratitude in my heart. And like a snowball rolling down a hill, that gift of gratitude will grow as the complaining spirit fades.
Let’s live each day in utter gratitude. Let’s give thanks for everything! Let’s balance every desire to complain with ten things to be grateful for, and every criticism with ten compliments. Let’s discover how that can transform our day, and realize that done over time, it will transform our heart.
Father, you are the giver of all good gifts and your generosity to me is overwhelming. I give thanks to you for all your kindness towards me. Today, help me to be an encouragement to everyone I meet. Help me to replace every temptation to complain or criticize with an equal and opposite word of gratitude and compliment. Show me how that can transform my day and my heart. Show me how my words of gratitude and compliment can change another person for the good. By your grace, transform me to become the person of grace and goodness that you desire me to be. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
What are you the top three things that you are thankful for? How can you give God thanks for these things?
As a family make a gratitude list of 15-20 things that you are thankful for. Whenever a family member has a complaint or criticism about something challenge them to add something they are thankful for to the list. Post a picture of your gratitude lists on your campus Kids Ministry Facebook Group so everyone can see what your family is thankful for!
Pray a prayer of thanksgiving. Praise God for who he is and thank him for the things on your family gratitude list.