Have you ever been at the Thanksgiving dinner table and asked your family and friends to share something they are thankful for?
If your family hasn’t been trained in the art of gratitude, it might go something like this:
Jonny: I’m thankful for my family.
Susie: I”m thankful for my family and my doggy.
Peter: I’m just thankful for my family.
Mom (trying to mix things up): I’m thankful for each one of you and that we can be together today.
Grandma: I’m grateful for another year of life and for each of you.
I won’t keep going around the table. I think you can see the thankful rut this family has entered and it happens for all of us in our prayers. Certain topics feel safe, appropriate, and even “spiritual”, but we don’t allow the Spirit to inspire our imaginations to notice the myriad of things we can be thankful for.
7 Themes to Inspire You to Become More Thankful
As part of the 90-Day Gratitude Challenge, we will explore in detail many different scriptural themes and concepts for which we can be grateful. Right now, I want to highlight seven general themes that can serve us immediately as we gather around the Thanksgiving table or anytime we pray.
#1: Thank God for what he has done.
David exclaims in 1 Chr. 16:18: “Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done.” When God answers prayers, stop to give him thanks (2 Cor. 1:11). Take time to remember all the answers he provides every day.
#2: Thank God for health and healing
In Luke 17, Jesus marvels that only one of out ten lepers returns to thank him after being miraculously healed. It’s tempting when we receive healing through medicine or the care of doctors to forget that God ultimately is the one who heals us. Give thanks when you are healthy and for when he heals you.
#3: Thank God for being good toward you
A repeated refrain through scripture is “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good” (Psalm 136:1). We don’t deserve the good ways God treats us. God honors his covenant toward us even though we break it continually. Stop to thank God often for his faithful love and eternal commitment to you (1Chr. 16:41).
#4: Give thanks for your daily bread
In the Old Testament, one of the primary offerings was a thanks offering. This recognized God’s hand in providing food, shelter, and the many ways God’s providence revealed itself. If you’re running out of things to be thankful for, you likely have a cupboard, a closet, or a bank account full of prompts.
#5: Thank Jesus for his sacrifice
Whenever we celebrate communion we repeat the words Jesus said, “This is my body, broken for you” (Luke 22:19). The longer we’ve been a Christian the more tempting it becomes to take Jesus’ sacrifice for granted. The Apostle Paul modeled a different response. Toward the end of his life, he understood that he was the “chief among sinners” (1 Tim. 1:15). This truth was illustrated poignantly when Jesus invited those without sin to stone the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11). Remember who left the scene first? The oldest. The longer we live the more aware we are of our need for a savior. I find I have daily reason to thank Jesus for the Gospel.
#6: Thank God for his gracious gifts
Paul exudes gratefulness as he thinks about the Corinthians and the gifts God has given them (1 Cor. 1:4). These gifts include the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit. Paul is also thankful for their generosity, their eager minds to learn, and the maturity brought about by the study and application of God’s word. What gifts has he given you that you overlook or maybe resent?
#7: Give thanks whenever you think of specific people
Paul starts off the letter to the Philippians with these words, “Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God” (Phil. 1:3). There are so many different people involved in our lives for whom and to whom we can give thanks. Even our enemies and those who irritate us. Take time to thoughtfully give thanks for each person as they come to mind.
Let me give you an example. For the last three months, I’ve been recovering from a wrist injury. As I’m mostly recovered now, I’ve been giving thanks for the numerous people whom God has used on this journey. Some of them came at just the right time and in a seemingly “accidental” way, but I know God orchestrated all of them. There were doctors, trainers, therapists, mindset coaches, family, and many friends. At least a dozen professionals. I’m grateful for each one of them. In my prayers, I thank God for each of them by name.
This list wasn’t intended to be exhaustive but to serve as a prompt as you spend time in gratefulness today. In future posts, we’ll dig deeper into all these themes and many more.
Take your journal to a quiet place. Set your timer for two minutes and write down as many things as come to mind for which you are thankful. Try to be specific. Share at least one of these with someone else today.
Father, I’m thankful for so many things today. I’m grateful that you love me, you know me, and you are always faithful and caring toward me. Thank you for providing for my daily needs. Thank you for bringing people into my life to challenge me, encourage me, and love me. Above all these, I’m grateful for my salvation through Jesus, which I know I don’t deserve. May I never grow weary of giving you thanks. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.