In a world where Monday mornings are a real thing, cultivating a thankful heart can seem almost impossible. Deadlines, illnesses, strained relationships, stress, and the ever-lovable teenage attitude can all play into our daily lives. Feeling thankful does not always come easily. So how do we focus on having a thankful heart?
As I look to scripture, I find many passages talking about offering thanksgiving to God. I also notice that there are no caveats to the thanksgiving command. Scripture does not say to offer thanksgiving only when we feel like it or when it is easy. I love the New Century Version translation of Philippians 4:6, which says, “Do not worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks.”
Cultivating a thankful heart does not always come naturally, but there are ways where we can shift our thoughts to God when we would rather grumble than be thankful.
Let’s take Philippians 4:6 and apply it to creating a thankful spirit.
1. Do not worry about anything.
This is a command, not a question or suggestion. Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:25-34 to not worry about our food, our clothes, or even tomorrow because we cannot add one hour to our day by worrying. When we worry, we take our focus off God and His directing of our lives and look inwardly at ourselves. Our focus becomes selfish, whereas it should be on God and how He wants to use us in our current circumstance.
2. Pray and ask God for everything you need.
Sometimes we get so swept up into our lives that we forget to stop and pray. And we can get so caught up talking about our problems to everyone else that we never stop and talk to God, the One who knows us better than any person on earth. Prayer should be our first response every time. I need reminders in this category so I like to use sticky notes to remind me to pray. As one prayer leads to another, talking to God becomes a more natural response than, “Oops! I forgot to pray!”
Also, pray about everything. Don’t just pray about the things that you think need God’s involvement. God wants to be intimately involved in every area of your life. He created us to have a relationship with Him that is more than just going to Him with things that we can’t seem to handle or change. Go to Him with all things, big and small, and you will see your relationship with Him grow into a daily dialogue of thankfulness and petition, praise and prayer.
3. Always give thanks.
As those words wash over me, I am reminded to give thanks in all circumstances, even the ones I don’t like. How can God really use me if I have to approve of everything that comes into my life?
Cultivate a thankful heart by thanking God daily for your current life situation. Whether you find yourself in situations that are challenging, despairing, joyful, or lonely... give thanks in all of your circumstances.
Multiple times throughout Paul’s letters to the Corinthians, Colossians, and Philippians, he encouraged them to be thankful in the midst of trying circumstances. Let his words take heart with you, too: Always be thankful. “And God’s peace, which is so great we cannot understand it, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)
Meet the Author!
Kim Arnold has been a church member of Council Road Baptist Church for nearly 25 years. She teaches private piano lessons in her studio and at Mid-America Christian University. Her passion lies in training up the next generation of worship leaders. Kim and her husband Jason have been married for 17 years and have a 12-year old son, Nolan.