Practicing Gratitude—A Challenge

A recent leadership conference I attended focused on gratitude. The Chief Executive Officer of the company thought correction in how some members were running their businesses was needed, and therefore spent at least twenty to thirty minutes discussing:

  • How to get gratitude,
  • How to practice it, and
  • How to extend it.

When a CEO of a multi-million dollar company spends that amount of time on any subject, it’s evident that it’s important and is an issue in today’s world, or in that company at least.

As it turns out, expressing gratitude (i.e. giving thanks) was an issue in the ancient world, too. The Psalmist and the Apostle Paul spent considerable time on the topic.

In the New English Translation of the Bible the words “thanks” or “thanksgiving” are used more than fifty times in the Psalms. Here are few examples (emphasis mine):

  • So now my heart will sing to you and not be silent; O LORDmy God, I will always give thanks to you. (Psalm 30:12)
  • Why are you depressed, O my soul? Why are you upset? Wait for God! For I will again give thanks to my God for his saving intervention. (Psalm 42:11, 43:5)
  • In God I boast all day long, and we will continually give thanks to your name. (Psalm 44:8)
  • Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give him thanks! Praise his name! (Psalm 100:4)

The New Testament uses the words “thank, thanks, or thanksgiving” more than fifty times as well, and thirty-four of those uses are in the letters written by the Apostle Paul. A few examples are as follows:

  • I always thank my God for you because of the grace of God that was given to you in Christ Jesus. (1 Cor. 1:4)
  • But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! (1 Cor. 15:57)
  • Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! (2 Cor. 9:15)
  • I do not cease to give thanks for you when I remember you in my prayers. (Eph. 1:16
  • …always giving thanks to God the Father for each other in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Eph. 5:20–21)
  • Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God. (Phil. 4:6)
  • Always rejoice, constantly pray, in everything give thanks. For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  (1 Thess. 5:16–19)
  • We ought to thank God always for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith flourishes more and more and the love of each one of you all for one another is ever greater. (2 Thess. 1:3)
  • I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints. (Philemon 1:4–5)

The ultimate example, of course, is that of Jesus giving thanks:

  • He took the five loaves and two fish, and looking up to heaven he gave thanks and broke the loaves. (Matt. 14:19)
  • He took the seven loaves and the fish, and after giving thanks, he broke them and began giving them to the disciples, who then gave them to the crowds. (Matt. 15:36)
  • While they were eating, he took bread, and after giving thanks he broke it, gave it to them, and said, “Take it. This is my body.” And after taking the cup and giving thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it. (Matt. 26:26–27, Mark 14:22–23)

The forms of expression of thanksgiving and gratitude differ, but commonalties are that the Psalmist, Apostle Paul, and Jesus expressed gratitude for:

  • People,
  • Provision,
  • Pardon of our sins through Jesus, and
  • In Prayer and Petition.

After hearing the focus of gratitude at the leadership conference, and remembering that a friend had suggested I should start a “Gratitude Journal,” I was sufficiently convicted.

How do we get gratitude, practice it, and extend it?

The outline above—giving thanks for the “Three P’s” in prayer and petition—gives me (and you) a great place to start.

Challenge: As the new school year begins and life ramps up to hectic levels once again, will you consider joining me in this practice of gratitude? At least once a week, let’s add at least one item for each of the “Three P’s” to our Gratitude Journal. Let’s see how we can change our hearts and minds between now and the celebration of Thanksgiving.

Related articles:

Keeping a Gratitude Journal by Sue Bohlin

The Secret to Authentic Contentment? by Lael Arrington

Photo courtesy of Lightstock.

Karla D. Zazueta is an architect-turned-discipleship-leader serving alongside her pastor-husband in Hispanic ministry both locally and abroad. She's also a mother to one furry feline and one adorable little boy. Karla has a M.A. in Christian Leadership from Dallas Theological Seminary and a B.S. in Architectural Studies. She is the author of Discipleship for Hispanic Introverts. She was also a contributing author to the book, Vindicating the Vixens, with the essay "Mary Magdalene: Repainting Her Portrait of Misconceptions."