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My oldest just turned 4, and we’ve been working a great deal on manners. “May I please” and “No, thank you” and all that. This is the first year he seems to have a real grasp on the holidays, asking questions about Thanksgiving and thinking about Christmas gifts, so I’m trying to be more intentional about instilling gratitude and thankfulness in this season of giving, and receiving. I'm hoping to do so by pointing my children to God each day through prayers for our family.
We aren’t naturally grateful creatures, unfortunately, which is all too apparent by the way children act without any prompting or instruction. My twins have learned to say “Mine” and “No share” all on their own, and my son has quickly picked up on how to make a rather long Christmas list. All these things came so easily to them, while teaching them gratitude seems to require constant reminders and guidance.
I don’t want to nag them to thankfulness. I know that won’t accomplish a true change of heart. I try to choose my instruction carefully and fill in the rest with setting an example and lifting them up in prayer.
Here are 7 scriptures and family prayers, one for each day of the week, that I’ve been using as I begin to trust God with the shaping of my children’s hearts, and my own.
“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:16-17
Lord, I pray that the message of Christ and his sacrifice is the root of gratitude in my heart. That His gracious gift leads me to thankful living, setting an example for my children. That they will have their own relationship with Jesus one day, and that You would grow gratitude in their hearts out of the acceptance of Jesus as their Savior. Lead us to do everything in the name of Jesus and give thanks to You through Him.
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Lord, please grow these characteristics in my heart and these habits in my life. I pray that you grow them in my children also. Help us to be a family known for rejoicing, praying, and giving thanks. Especially in giving thanks in all circumstances, no matter what.
“Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people; praise his holy name.” Psalm 30:4
Lord, I pray that you would give my children and I a knowledge of you and your character. Help us to ground our gratitude for this life and eternity in who you are, help us to praise you and your holy name by knowing You more.
“One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.” Luke 17:15-16
Lord, keep our eyes open and hearts aware of all that you have done for us. Help us to be like the one leper Jesus healed, that turned back to that Him for what he had done. Please protect us from becoming like the other lepers who forgot to be grateful. Help us to notice goodness and be grateful for it.
“I will give you thanks in the great assembly; among the throngs I will praise you.” Psalm 35:18
Lord, I pray that you would give me and my children boldness in our thanks. Let us not be ashamed of You or what you have done. Let us praise you openly and publicly for everyone to hear of your goodness. Let our thankfulness be a witness to others and bring them to Christ.
“But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” Ephesians 5:3-5
Lord, please replace our sins and temptations with thanksgiving. Help us to use gratitude as a way to battle the draw to immorality or impurity. Let us be people who are filled with thanks rather than sinful desires.
“We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers.” 1 Thessalonians 1:2
Lord, help us to be thankful for one another. Help my children to be thankful for each other, for our family to be grateful for each member and to pray one another continually. Our gratitude for one another will bind us together as a family, and our prayers for each other will further unify us in gratitude and love.
How do you encourage gratitude in your home? Any ideas for instilling thankfulness in your children?
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Marie Osborne is a wife, mom, coffee drinker, loud laugher, & Jesus follower. When she isn't laughing with her husband, texting with her girlfriends, singing with her preschooler, or chasing after her toddler twins, she's probably writing at her blog while binge watching Netflix.
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