How to Cultivate a Grateful Heart


It’s November and Thanksgiving (in the US) is just around the corner.

Most of us will gather with family and friends, eat way too much, and give a nod to giving thanks.

Is it possible, though, to be truly grateful on this day set aside to give thanks?  And what about the rest of the year?  Can we walk through life with a grateful heart?

There are a number of actions that can help grow a heart that gives thanks:

Write: Name people, places, blessings in your life right now that you can say “thank You, Lord” for.

Remember:  How God has rescued or changed you.  Hard situations that made you stronger.  The times you rejoiced.  The times you cried.  The evidence that God has been with you every step of the way.

Read:  Scripture is full of examples of thanking God, reminders to be thankful, even commands to “give thanks in everything.”  Do a study on "giving thanks” in Scripture, beginning with 1 Thessalonians 5:18.

Reflect:  God is God and God is good.  Does that help you say “Thank You, Lord” in even the most painful situations?

Repeat:  The most important way to cultivate a grateful heart is to practice. Over and over, in every situation. In our family, we have been intentional about learning to say “Thank You” for the good and for what doesn’t seem good to us.

Steve:  Not long ago my husband was faced with a number of significant challenges in the ministry, any of which could cause significant problems for the organization.  If all of them took a wrong turn, the consequences could be severe.  His response:  “Thank You, Lord, that You are in control.  We can trust You.”

Judy:  I do a lot of work on my computer and my phone. Recently  my IPhone was stolen and a few weeks later my computer totally crashed, and I discovered it had not been backed up in a year. My first response was pretty negative, but soon I was able to practice a grateful attitude.

Debbie: Several years ago Debbie's husband, Nick, was diagnosed with a serious liver condition.  It almost killed him and remains an unknown threat, though he has been fine since then.  "We learned to be grateful to God.  This situation changed our hearts, softened us and has made us aware of our complete dependence on God.  It is still a daily reminder."

Michelle: Not a great fan of running, Michelle wasn't thrilled when husband Brad took up serious running.  But she joined him just to be with him and engage in what's important to him.  Now it has "become something I am thankful for to benefit me personally as well as the whole family."

Josh:  In his younger life, our son was not a grateful person.  But God has done some beautiful work in him.  Even two weeks ago, when his beloved grandfather was dying, he said, through his tears:  “I’m really trying to say ‘Thank You, Lord’ in this, but it is really hard.”

What about you?  How do you cultivate a grateful heart?

C2013 Judy Douglass