On the eleventh day of Christmas,
the Lord God said to me,
“Thank me for your blessings.”
When our son and daughter were little and our family was invited to someone’s home for supper, we would remind them before we arrived to thank our hosts for feeding us a yummy supper. On a trip to the Texas Gulf Coast when my daughter was four, she somehow landed a 29-inch trout—it was as long as she was tall! We cooked it for supper, inviting some neighbors to join us. Toward the end of the meal, our daughter slipped out of her chair and came and whispered in my ear, Remind everyone to thank me for a yummy supper! She was so cute and sweet, and we all giggled our thanks. She beamed at being the provider of the meal. This was also a lovely reminder to us that even at that very young age, our daughter was learning about gratitude.
I think of myself as being in touch with gratitude and expressing it, but I would like to work on becoming even more grateful. I wonder about all the ways in which my attitude of gratitude can permeate every aspect of my life. Many articles and books have been written about the physical and mental benefits of being grateful. The Bible is filled with prayers and stories that speak our thanks to God and lists the many reasons we have to be thankful at all times and in all circumstances.
- What people, places, things, or memories are you particularly grateful for?
- How can you look at some of the disappointments and challenges you’ve faced in the last few weeks from a grateful perspective?
- Does this shift in attitude help you feel better about being disappointed or challenged?
Gratitude Jar: Place a jar on your kitchen counter or in a place you pass frequently. Leave yourself a stack of sticky notes or squares of paper, along with a pen, pencil, or other writing utensil. Invite family members to write down one thing they are grateful for each morning and place their note in the jar. At the end of the week—maybe during a family dinner—read these thank-you notes together and offer your thanks to God in prayer.
Compliments: Challenge yourself and your family to offer thanks to or compliment at least one person today. You can offer your kind word face-to-face, as a tweet or post it on Facebook, or even as a text message!
Gratitude Journal: Start a gratitude journal. Each entry is centered around something or someone you are grateful for, and will help you keep focused and centered on thanking God for the good things in your life.
Prayer at Meals: Offering thanks to God before or after our meals is an opportunity to remember God’s grace and gifts in our lives. Table Graces and Family Graces are two tabletop tools available to help busy families remember to pray when they are gathered around their tables. You can find Table Graces and Family Graces by visiting www.ForwardMovement.org.
“Glory in the highest, and peace to God’s people on earth!” We hear this phrase, or phrases very similar to it, many times in the psalms, and we hear it in this beautiful song, too. Thanking God for the gift of Jesus is a wonderful way to spend our prayer time.
(Angels We Have Heard on High—Howard University Gospel Choir)
Sing along with the first eleven verses of our “12 Days of Christmas” song.
Write your own prayer of thanks for your specific blessings. Here’s mine:
I am so blessed. Thank you. Thank you for the opportunity this year to help my mom move and to hear her stories about trips and friends and family as we discussed which of her things she should take with her. Thank you for my incredible family, most especially my loving and supportive husband. Thank you for my children, for their enthusiasm for life and exploration and for their opportunities to visit another country and study in a different state. Thank you for my health and my curiosity and my appreciation for friends, family and the incredible beauty of the world around me. In Christ’s name. Amen.
Commit to memory the following passage, cultivating in your heart God’s will for you to live by an attitude of gratitude:
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
What steps can you take to nurture gratitude?