Developing the mindset of gratitude

Gratitude journals are a popular thing in some circles. Isn’t it good to see this? In a harsh and bitter world, cultivating a grateful heart can only produce good things.

Gratitude makes up a large part of a Christian’s prayers. So reasons for gratitude provide plenty of material for one’s communion with God.

Remember that many Israelites fell in the desert between Egypt and Canaan for lack of gratitude (mumbling and complaining). The apostle Paul considered it so important that he told saints to cultivate it three times, in three different ways, each mention in close proximity, in Colossians 3.15-17 (ESV):

  • “be thankful”
  • “with thankfulness in your hearts to God”
  • “giving thanks to God the Father through” the Lord Jesus.

Years ago, I taught a seminar to saints called “One Hour with God,” providing a structure for personal devotions. An important segment of that hour was the prayer of gratitude.

In that segment, participants were given a list of things to be grateful for. The list served as a starter for the slow of mind. It included:

  • Salvation in Christ and everything that implied
  • The family of faith
  • Our defeats
  • God’s providence over events, which we often see only afterwards
  • God’s wisdom in distributing his gifts in the body of Christ
  • The fulfillment of God’s promises
  • God’s revelation of his plan to the little ones of this world
  • Answers to prayers
  • All people
  • Marriage, food, and physical necessities

These are broad categories. Everyone will have a personal list with specific items. Those items will change, or be added to, over time.

A few days ago, I decided to start my own gratitude journal, specifically and exclusively for that purpose. At the moment, I’m doing everything digitally: calendar, agenda, to-do list, you name it. So for this I decided to go the old-fashion way, with pen and paper. It’s a plain, lined notebook like the kind you buy in your local dollar store. (A plus: It was “Made in Brazil,” where I live—but I bought it in the US.) No fancy stuff (unless you just want to). Even the writing instrument is a plastic Pilot fountain pen.

Recently, I included the following items to be thankful for.

  • A person’s continued interest in Bible study that my wife is conducting
  • We have water in the house (written when we went 18 hours without electricity)
  • The Missus’s and my good health
  • Our forty-second anniversary of getting engaged Feb. 14
  • A contribution from a friend
  • No leaks in the house or office after a heavy storm

You probably don’t need any prompts like these, but there they are.

Paul wraps up one of his letters this way: “Always rejoice, constantly pray, in everything give thanks. For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” 1 Thessalonians 5.16-18 NET.

Always … constantly … everything. Those are big words. These activities require steadfast attention. The evil one offers much to distract us from these necessary activities.

Whatever we do to reinforce them, however we may arrange our thoughts to engage in them, will bring great blessing to our hearts, power to life in the Kingdom, and glory to the God who gives all things to enjoy.

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