Be Thankful to God each day
Have you ever thought that to be thankful to God is a gift? A thankful heart is a gift to God. It shows Him two things: that you are aware of His gifts and that you are greatful for them.* (See note below on this spelling of greatful.)
God loves us beyond measure, beyond what our human minds and hearts can comprehend. He wants what is best for us and He seeks us out to draw us closer to Him. He provides for all of our needs. When we have a greatful heart, we acknowledge this and show God that we accept and are thankful for His gifts.
In Ephesians 5:20 we read: “giving thanks always and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father.”
How how can we cultivate a thankful heart?
Sometimes we feel thankful automatically, like when we see our child run across the street safely as a car is coming. Other times, we need to work at being greatful, like when an illness slows us down when we are overworked and really did need to take a break.
Although thankfulness is not always an automatic response to events and people in our lives, we can learn to cultivate a thankful heart. It does take effort on our part.
Here are three ways we can work to have a more thankful heart.
Ask God in prayer to help you to have a more thankful heart. In Matthew 7:8, Jesus says: ” For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Jesus tells us to ask for our needs in prayer. He tells us that God hears us and will answer us. Sometimes His answers are not what we expect, but He knows us, knows what is best for us, and will answer us according to what He knows we need and what is best for us.
If you do truly want to have a more thankful heart, ask God to help you to cultivate thankfulness in your heart.
Thoughts and words spoken
Our thoughts often dwell on what is in our hearts. Is your heart filled with worry, stress, or fears? Thus, your thoughts will be consumed by worry, stress, or fear as well. Is your heart filled with love for others? Then your thoughts will think good things about others rather than negative things.
We can use this heart/thought connection to our advantage by working it in the other direction. Instead of letting our hearts control our thoughts (especially when those thoughts are filled with negative things such as worry and selfishness), we can lead our hearts with our thoughts.
One way to do this is to find a Bible passage to use to turn your heart to see things with thankfulness.
Do you have a favorite Bible passage that you repeat when you want to remember and reflect on a certain message from God? It is helpful to have verses memorized for just this purpose. As you are learning them, you can write them down and post them where you will see them, like on the bathroom mirror, on the refrigerator, or on the dashboard of your car. Take a moment to read them when you see them (you can do this out loud, too) so that God's words will sink more deeply into your heart.
Here are some verses about thankfulness:
James 1:17a: "all good giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father."
2 Corinthians 9:11: " You are being enriched in every way for all generosity, which through us produces thanksgiving to God."
1 Thessalonians 5:18: "In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus."
Another way to do this is to come up with a phrase to use to turn your heart to see things with thankfulness.
For example, if you have a knee-jerk type of thought of, "Now I have to clean the floor again!" whenever your son brings you flowers with dirt falling off the roots, think of what you are thankful for in that moment. Are you thankful that your son thought to bring you the gift of flowers? Are you thankful that your son is not sick, but healthy and well enough to enjoy playing outside and pulling up flowers for you?
Turn what you are thankful for into a mantra you can use to acknowledge and show your thankfulness to God for your son and his good qualities. "Lord, thank you for giving me such a thoughtful son." or "Thank you, God, for this flower and all the gifts You give to me, especially the gift of my son."
Using Bible passages and words of thankfulness in our thoughts and out loud with our words will help us to mold our hearts to acknowledge God's gifts and to be more thankful to God for them.
We can show our thankfulness to God by our actions. Sometimes you may not feel thankful, but you can do some action to help you to become more thankful.
For example, when you are shopping for groceries, you can purchase some items for your church's or a local food pantry. You can thank God that you have enough food for your family and you can pray for those who do not have enough food.
You can take a few minutes to listen to someone talk about their aches and pains instead of rushing off after just a hello. Giving a listening ear is a gift to the person who is worried about his or her health. You can thank God for your own health and pray for the person who is sharing their health problems with you.
You can read your child the story she has asked you to read and put off the chore you were going to do for just a few more minutes. She will remember and be thankful that you chose her over the chore that day.
Do you have a talent to share with others? Maybe you can make a baby blanket for a local pregnancy center, make a few phone calls for a ministry at church, be a Eucharistic Minister or lector during one Mass a month, or be a listening ear now and again to someone that others avoid.
Making the time to be there or serve others is a way to show thankfulness to God for all the gifts he has done for you.
In 2 Corinthians, 9:7-8 we read: "Each must do as already determined, without sadness or compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 Moreover, God is able to make every grace abundant for you, so that in all things, always having all you need, you may have an abundance for every good work."
Be Thankful to God: Give God the Gift of a Thankful Heart
Through prayer, our thoughts, our words, and our actions, we can cultivate thanksgiving in our hearts to God and be thankful to God for the gifts He gives us. We can give God the gift of a thankful heart.
You may also enjoy: Learning to be Greatful.
*Note on my use of greatful instead of grateful: To me, a grate is a grid or part of a cheese grater, not a condition of the heart. Our hearts can be great in love and gratitude; they can inspire us to greatness. I am greatful for the great things God has done for me. Thus, I spell
grateful greatful this way.
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