Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.—1 Thessalonians 5:18
Some folks seem to be naturally grateful in all circumstances. I was in awe of the attitude of a young man I met years ago, who at the age of twenty-five had been in a car accident leaving him paralyzed and confined to a wheel chair. He always had a smile on his face; he was polite to others; he was grateful for whoever picked him up for church and saw that he was returned home; he loved to sing and always had something fun and funny to say. He was truly a unique example of being grateful in all circumstances.
However, for some of us an attitude of gratitude must be cultivated. Once we begin to let ourselves practice being grateful, it grows on us and in us. We make a discovery about gratitude that we would not otherwise know: Gratitude is magnetic. A grateful heart and mind become a mighty magnet drawing to itself more to be grateful for.
I’ve kept a gratitude journal for many years. When I finish one, I start another. I list what I am grateful for, and most days I list ten things. Other days I list just a few. Gratitude is a part of my regular prayer practice, and it is a must for anyone who has a commitment to ongoing spiritual growth. We literally raise our gratitude quotient when we develop an attitude to “give thanks in all circumstances.” The higher our gratitude quotient, the more magnetized we are for the gifts of health, happiness, joy, peace, love, and prosperity.
The fact that it helps us see ourselves and others in a more compassionate way is another added bonus. When I am grateful as our prayer anchor says, “in all circumstances,” I find something to be grateful about in whatever I am facing. If I am in a difference of opinion with someone, I find it easier to forgive myself and them if I focus on finding something to be grateful for in the experience.
An attitude of gratitude can be developed over time if practiced sincerely and on a regular basis. When we pray, remembering to be grateful, we develop gratitude as a habit and thereby establish it as a way of life.
When I was a child, my mother often had to coerce us kids to eat our vegetables at mealtime. She would make us “say grace” over our meal and tell us to be grateful for whatever food was before us. She instructed us to eat what was in front of us even if we didn’t like it. She told us it would still nourish our bodies even if we didn’t like the taste of it, and for that nourishment we should be grateful. So we are the carrots, broccoli, string beans, and all the vegetables Mom placed before us, not for the taste, but for the nourishment (and because Mom said so). It was always a great joy on some occasions that for eating all of our vegetables Mom would reward us with dessert. To eat my Mom’s peach cobbler or her homemade ice cream was more than worth eating a few carrots and string beans. It was that good! So we learned to eat our carrots, broccoli and whatever Mom placed before us in the hope and expectation that if we expressed our gratitude, something delicious would surely follow. We learned that good things follow the heart-felt expression of gratitude “in all circumstances”—and that includes eating our vegetables.
When you pray, start your prayers with a statement of gratitude. For example, “I am grateful for all God’s blessings in my life” or “Thank you God for my life, and all the good that continually flows to me for my use and enjoyment” or “Gratitude fills my mind and heart.”’ Make your own statement, but do make gratitude part of your prayer.
When we are thankful, even before the outer demonstration, it is an indication of an attitude of gratitude. Praying with gratitude as a theme will help in expanding your conscious- ness toward greater blessings. You’ll discover that you have much more to be grateful for. Your level of inner confidence will allow you to trust that you can overcome whatever expe- riences come your way. You’ll know that you won’t face any situation alone. God is love, and we live in that love. “... for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
End your prayers with statements of gratitude. Also, you may vary your methods by making your whole prayer a series of gratitude statements. Express your heartfelt gratitude for the good you are now demonstrating and the good you expect to demonstrate.