“Gratitude is a discipline before it’s a feeling—a remembering before it’s a rejoicing. Indeed, gratitude is warfare—a bold protest and strong defense against discontent, pouting, and envy.” -Scotty Smith
I used to think of gratitudes as just happy thoughts… I mean, what was the point? It wasn’t until I read One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp that I learned that “happy” wasn’t a requirement for gratitude––that the practice can’t depend on our circumstances and when we are disciplined give thanks even in our darkest times, we can have deep joy in the Lord in any situation.
It’s a humbling process for sure! John Ortberg says, “When you buy a new car and drive it home from the showroom, you may be thrilled that you can buy a new car, but you’re not necessarily grateful to GM or Ford. But what if I drove a brand-new Porsche to your home, pulled into the driveway, and handed you the keys?”
He went on to say that “the bigger the sense of entitlement, the smaller the sense of gratitude.”
What we have, we didn’t do for ourselves. It all came from God. But if you think you deserve something, you likely won’t think to be grateful for it.
I have had moments of staring around the room in a hard season just desperately trying to think of something to be grateful for as if I had NOTHING to be grateful for. Then it hit, “this next breath”, “this home”, “my legs that work”… I look for the big grand things I KNOW I can’t do on my own and forget that the things I can’t do on my own include everything.
In our class “Where Prayer Meets Science” we talked about the tendency to practice gratitude in an “empty praise” way. If we can be grateful for a soft pillow without thinking about the giver, gratitudes may help you get through the day but they won’t settle your soul like acknowledging the giver will. Romans 1:25 says they “worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator.”
If we truly want to experience the true depth of gratitude, we must let our list of gratitudes give us a bigger view of who our God is and what He is capable of instead of giving us a greater appreciation for our list.
This is not just a great thing to do but something we see Jesus model in the Gospels and is part of the ACTS method of prayer, which is based on four parts of prayer we see in Scripture: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication. Thanksgiving isn’t some fluffy optional part of prayer. It is essential. To pray prayers of thanksgiving, our eyes have to be wide open to see all those blessings in our life. It sets up our whole day with a fresh perspective.
That’s why we included the Gratitude Section in our Yearly Prayer Journal. There’s something about getting those words of thanksgiving onto paper that has the power to shift our minds off of ourselves, remember the joy we have in the Lord and trust in Him for what’s next.
“Loving the gratitude section in my yearly journal! I decided to work on listing 1,000 things like Val recommended, and it’s really helped my mindset to focus on thankfulness just even the past 2 days at home with a sick, screaming baby. Praise the Lord for amoxicillin and prayer journals!” -Malorie Coffman
These lined pages contain space for you to record your own 1000 gratitudes (we suggest starting your prayer time with about three a day), but our community has come up with some other great ideas for how to use it too!
- Number your page with how many days there are in the month and then write one gratitude each day of the year! (Mandy Schaalma)
- Write out the ABCs and list one or two gratitudes per letter.
- Take a break from your list sometimes and write out a more in-depth prayer of gratitude or jot down mini-prayers instead of listing. (Karen Gangnon)
- Scroll back through the photos on your phone or check your calendar to jog your memory. (Bethany Roszhart and Karen Gangnon)
- Don’t worry about repeating! Just acknowledge that it’s something you’re super grateful for. 🙌 (Claire Koepp)
- Label different pages with different categories (husband’s name, kids’ names, church, work or ministry you’re involved in, etc). When you see something you’ve been praying about for one of those people or areas come to fruition, write down the result. (Angie French)
Don’t be afraid to try some different things before you find what works for you! We’ve made this list into a printable that fits right inside your journal so you can have it handy when you sit down to pray.
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