Gratitude is a vital part of the Christian life. God Himself instructs us all throughout His Word to be thankful and to have grateful hearts. This gratitude, as we discussed last week, is not just saying “thank you” but actually actively expressing and living out our feelings of gratefulness. So, how do we apply this? How do we show God that we are grateful? Let’s walk through 10 ways to show gratitude to God!
Thank God in prayer and worship
Prayer is the first and foremost way we should be expressing our gratitude to God. Prayer is our communication with God, therefore thanking God in prayer is literally telling Him you are thankful. Again, gratitude isn’t just words, so thanking God in prayer should be honest and expressed. In Matthew 6, Jesus is giving the Sermon on the Mount. In this incredibly valuable sermon, He instructs us specifically about prayer.
5 “Whenever you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by people. Truly I tell you, they have their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your private room, shut your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.Matthew 6:5-6 CSB
There is a time for private prayers and a time for “public” prayers. A time to pray alone with God and a time to pray to God with others. I love how an article on page 1648 in my CSB She Speaks Truth Bible puts it. It is explained as there being a time for PDA (Public Display of Affection) and a time for sacred intimacy, which is private.
Just like any relationship, we should not just express our gratitude, or other affections, publically and then act totally different behind closed doors. Nor should we actively express our love and gratitude in private and fail to do so when we’re around others. There is a right balance to be found in all relationships, including in our relationship with God, in order to foster healthy intimacy and to show our gratitude in the ways that speak to the love language of God.
2 Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.Colossians 4:2 ESV
Intentional prayer and worship are vital to expressing our gratitude to God and we should be actively pursuing both every single day.
Spend time in and obey God’s Word
Later in Matthew 6, we see again an instruction to seek first the Kingdom of God. In other words, seek God first. Prioritize God and His desires for you. Align your desires with His. We learn how to do this by spending time in His Word, and in turn show God our gratitude by spending time learning more about Him, who He calls us to be, and growing in our personal relationships with and understanding of Him.
33 But seek first the kingdom of God[a] and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.Matthew 6:33 CSB
God’s Word is His instruction book to us. When we prioritize time in His Word, we live out our gratitude by actively learning what God has in store through His Word. Spending time in the Bible should draw us closer to God and teach us even more about how to live in gratitude to our gracious Heavenly Father.
12 For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.Hebrews 4:12 CSB
Make time for God every day
Making time not just to read the Bible, pray, and worship, but to purely BE with God. It is too easy to just read the Bible or pray every once in a while, on a whim, scattered and unplanned. When we actively plan out time to spend with God, we show Him we are grateful for Him; for who He is, for what He does and gives, and for all we have. We can live our gratitude by making a habit of spending time with God, intentionally.
11 Seek the Lord and his strength;
seek his presence continually!1 Chronicles 16:11 ESV
15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.Ephesians 5:15-17 ESV
Plant a gratitude garden
Over the Summer (way too late in the year, mind you) my kiddo and I decided it was time to start gardening. This idea is a fun one, but even though our first little garden was a failed effort this time we got to really invest in it as a means of worship. Growing something as a means of acknowledgment, gratitude, and worship toward God is incredible.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.John 15:1-2 ESV
A fun idea to draw closer to God with a grateful heart is to plant, nurture and grow a living plant, recognizing God’s hand in the process. I love the imagery here. We are related to being part of the Vine of Christ, needing to be pruned and bear fruit. As we water our gratitude garden we can pray over it with thanksgiving that God is watering us in our lives and growing, pruning, and developing us into the fruit bearers He intends us to be.
Start a gratitude journal
Keeping a record of the things we are grateful for helps us to truly place some focus on these things. It gives us a space to unleash and identify the little and the big things, as well as all the in-betweens, that God does and provides for us. Gratitude journals are a wonderful way to express our gratitude to God because we are intentionally taking time to think about God’s hand in our lives and record our thanks for it all.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:Ecclesiastes 3:1 ESV
Gratitude journals also allow us to look back at what we have thanked God for in the past. This can remind us that God is faithful and worthy of our gratitude in all seasons of life. No matter what we face today, He has shown Himself faithful before and will continue to be faithful again and again. We need those reminders sometimes, and this is a wonderful way to remember.
Use talents & resources He has blessed you with to serve others
As with the reminders we get while recording in a gratitude journal, or praying to God our thanks, we need the reminders that all we have is from God. Not only this, but God gives us what we have in order to use it to bring Him glory and advance His Kingdom. Living out our thankfulness to God by serving others with what He has blessed us with brings God great joy.
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:1 Peter 4:10 ESV
Take care of and love people
Jesus told us that the greatest command is two-fold- to love God, and to love people. Loving people and taking care of them as God commands and instructs us to do, sacrificing our wants or desires for the sake of God and others, with a grateful heart, not grudging, is a beautiful way to show God how grateful we are. In this we love out the fact that all we have belongs to God and that in our gratitude for this we give it back to God in the ways He calls us to. In our gratitude we are generous with love and in service in order to advance the Kingdom of God with a grateful heart.
36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”Matthew 22:36-40 ESV
Be generous toward others
Alongside love and service is giving. Generosity should always come from a grateful heart. Giving doesn’t have to mean money, either. God calls on us to be generous in all kinds of ways, some examples being:
- Skills and talents
Giving requires us to be generous, willing to sacrifice something God has given us in order to bless and benefit someone else. Doing so expresses to Gid that we are grateful for all He has provided for us.
35 In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”Acts 20:35 ESV
38 give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”Luke 6:38 ESV
21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.Matthew 6:21 ESV
Take care of your body as the temple of God
God made us in His image, and when we enter into a relationship with Him through faith in Jesus, the Holy Sport comes to dwell in us, making us His temple. As such, we should care for our bodies as the temple of God with thanksgiving.
13 “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.1 Corinthians 6:13 ESV
Keeping our bodies pure and honoring to God shows God we trust Him and are grateful to Him. It is an act of worship with our bodies to remain pure. Even when we fall short, coming to God with a repentant heart restores us to Him, washes away our sins, and places us in a position of gratitude once again.
16 Do you not know that you[a] are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.1 Corinthians 3:16-17 ESV
Some examples of living out gratitude through purity are refraining from sexual impurity, gluttony and sloth. These are some of the sins that can defile our bodies, and lead us away from grateful obedience and honor to God.
19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV
Be good stewards of what God provides
The icing on top so to speak is being a good steward of all He provides. By using what God gives us to serve, worship, and live in grateful generosity and love, we can be good stewards of the things and people God has placed in our lives. All we have is from Him, and IS His, and should be used to serve Him with grateful hearts. Be ready at all times to show gratitude to God no matter the circumstances you face, no matter what you think you lack, what you desire, what you have or have not… do all you do for Him because you are grateful for Him.
14 By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.2 Timothy 1:14 ESV
How do you show God gratitude?
There are so many ways to show gratitude to God. We should strive to live out gratitude for God in all circumstances, and with all that He does and provides for us. When we live grateful hearts, we are more receptive to God and His instruction.
How has being grateful changed your life? How do you enjoy showing God gratitude in your life? I would love to hear what ways you would encourage others to live out your thanks to our Heavenly Father. Share with us in the comments below!
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