The Practical Practice of Gratitude

thanksgiving table spread with food

The Practical Practice of Gratitude

When we stop and take the time to recount the things we are thankful for, we pull ourselves out of a space of darkness and are reminded to walk in light.

It is the season known for thankfulness. We take the time to count our blessings and reflect on the goodness of God in our lives. Thankfulness shouldn’t just be a once-a-year activity. We should be putting in place the practice of gratitude in our daily lives. 

There is something in the action of reflection that helps us mentally; it keeps us focused on what matters and pulls our eyes back to what is most important. 

When we open our Bibles, we are reminded again and again to be thankful. When we pour out praise, we are recounting our thankfulness. When we are in the midst of different circumstances, we are called to thankfulness. 

Each day we should be practicing thankfulness. 

When hard circumstances come to call, when life feels dark and we come undone, our first response is often to complain or feel frustrated. The farthest thing from our minds in those moments is gratitude. 

We are quick to complain and delay in our gratitude. 

It is a far easier reaction to be miserable than it is to be thankful because thankfulness takes work. When we stop and take the time to recount the things we are thankful for, we pull ourselves out of a space of darkness and are reminded to walk in light. 

Scripture is clear in its call to thankfulness no matter what our circumstances may be. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). 

Prayer plus supplication plus thanksgiving equals peace. 

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:7). 

Gratitude leads our hearts to a place of peace in God. It keeps us in the space of remembering who God is and the work that He has accomplished in our lives. It is not as hard as it sounds. We often make it much harder than it has to be. 

There are simple ways we can practice gratitude in our everyday lives and move our hearts from anxiety to peace. We can implement the practice in our homes and with our families every day. 

  1. Make the habit of writing down ten things each day you are thankful for. Whether it is first thing in the morning or right before bed, taking the time to recall specific things you are thankful for will keep your mind always in a place of gratitude. We will begin to look for things throughout our day that spark thankfulness in our hearts. Whether it is the laughter of our children, the love of our family members, or holding hands with our spouse, we can write down what brought gratitude to our hearts. 
  2. Tell the people in your life. One of the best ways we can practice gratitude is by telling the people in our lives we are thankful for them. It can be your family members but it can also be the person bagging your groceries at the store, the person who holds the door for you at church, or the person who delivers your mail. God places people in our lives for a reason. Don’t neglect to let them know you are thankful for them. 
  3. Fill your home with Scriptures of Thanksgiving. Placing Scripture around your home is a beautiful way to keep it fresh on the minds of everyone who walks through your doors. We need to be reminded that God calls us to be thankful, and, as a result, He will pour out His peace into our hearts. In the Psalms, it is filled with the call of gratitude to worship God for His mighty works; in the book of Thessalonians we are reminded that a grateful heart should be a part of our every day no matter the circumstances. Place the Scriptures in places of prominence where they will be seen in daily activities as you come and go from home. 
  4. Remove what steals your gratitude. There is plenty in our lives that will steal our thankfulness. Pride, jealousy, and coveting will all move our hearts out of a place of thankfulness. Social media, the news, toxic people can all be things that keep our hearts from being grateful. Remove them from your life, set boundaries where they are needed, and hold fast to the heart of thankfulness. 
  5. Take stock of wants versus needs. This is something we should not only be learning ourselves but teaching our children. Day to day, we find things we want, but they may not be what we need. When we fill our lives with all of our wants, we can forget to be thankful for our basic needs that are met. Practicing this habit and teaching it to our children helps us recall what we truly have to be thankful for. Food on our table, water to drink, a roof over our heads, and clothing to cover our bodies. The rest is extra blessings. 

Each of these are simple steps we can begin to take in our lives to put the practice of gratitude into action. It wasn’t until just a few years ago that I began to do these things myself. It made a huge difference in how I view the world around me and the work that God is doing in my life. 

I began to find myself thankful not just for the small things, but also for the hard things. 

This practice puts our hearts in a posture to be thankful no matter what because we will always see God working and supplying blessing and goodness. When days are dark, we will still be able to see His hand moving in the midst. When we are at our weakest, we will see with gratitude that He meets us there with His unending strength. Then as joy rises and blessings abound, we will overflow with abundant peace from our Heavenly Father. Peace that passes all understanding. 

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/AlexRaths

Michelle Rabon is a wife and homeschooling mom of three who feels called to help women thrive in their walk with Jesus every day. In 2012, she started Displaying Grace, a ministry that is focused on helping women engage with God’s Word. Michelle has also served in women’s ministry for the past five years seeking to equip women in the local church through Bible study. When she is not writing or teaching, she enjoys reading, being close to the ocean, and drinking a lot of coffee.