A Prayer for Thankfulness When You’re Struggling
By Wendy van Eyck
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” - 1 Thessalonians 5:18
If you’re struggling with being thankful for an imperfect life at the moment here are 5 different ways to practice thankfulness:
1. Toe to head thank you
As a teenager, I heard Mike Pilavachi speak at a Soul Survivor event. I can’t remember most of what he said but one thing stuck with me: a prayer of gratitude when you wake up in the morning. I still do this from time-to-time. Basically the idea is that as you wake up in the morning you start at your toes and you thank God for the ability to wiggle them and then you move up naming various body parts and why you are thankful for them until you reach your head. I generally find at the end of this prayer I’m pretty cheerful about the day ahead.
Another way to build gratitude into your life even when you aren’t feeling it is to say grace before your meal. Don’t make this a rote prayer that you learnt at kindergarten. Use each meal as an opportunity to thank God for one good thing in your life. If you’re really drawing a blank, you can always simply thank him that you have food for one meal.
3. The Ann Voskamp method
A few years ago now, Ann Voskamp wrote a beautiful book about how she learnt to embrace gratitude through hard things. It is called One Thousand Gifts and if by some chance you haven’t read it yet, you should. Without giving too much away the basic premise is find 3 things to be grateful for each day. Ann Voskamp’s lists always read like poetry. I tried my own list for a couple of months while Xylon had chemo and I definitely found myself noticing the small things to be thankful for that I might have otherwise missed.
4. Sunset thank you
One of my cousins, Pam, was telling me recently how from the time her children are small she tells them every time they see a sunset that God loves them and just like the sun sets every evening God’s love for them will never change. I thought this was a beautiful idea. It also made me think of the sunset as an opportunity to thank God for being part of the day we just lived. Even if I didn’t feel him there the sunset reminds me that was.
5. Last thought at night
Something I try and do each night as I fall asleep is thank God for at least one thing that happened that day. This prayer is usually really sleepy but it helps me to fall asleep in good frame of mind and forget all the difficult things that might have happened in the day.
Do any of these ideas sound doable to you? Do you think they’d help get you into a cycle of cheerfulness-prayer-gratitude?
Prayer: God, sometimes life gets me down and I find it hard to see things to be thankful for. Open my eyes to see the gifts you’ve given me in my life. I’m going to start by thanking you for loving me enough to come to earth and die so we can live together forever. Amen.
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