I remember the first time I heard someone talk about a “gratitude journal.” It was several years ago. It was Oprah (don’t judge), and she spoke about how she would write down five things that she was grateful for at the end of her day. I remember thinking that that was a great practice and probably something that I needed to do. I was surrounded by BABIES and needing to be more grateful for the blessings that God had given to me. So, I did. And, like everything in my life at that time, it lasted one hot second. I guess that I’m confessing that because I want you to know that with all of these ancient rhythms and spiritual practices, you might have to try and try again. You will establish your own rhythm though, trust me.
Have you ever heard that story in the Bible about when Jesus healed 10 lepers? It’s in Luke 17 if you’re unfamiliar. So, Jesus heals 10 lepers. And then he tells them to go and show themselves to the priest. Talk about humility. He didn’t say to do anything fancy. He didn’t make a show of it or anything. He totally could have. I mean, I would have for sure. But, I’m a little different than Jesus. He’s got that whole perfection thing going on.
But, it does seem like he’s surprised by one thing. They were kind of ungrateful, don’t you think? If you read the story, you see that one (ONE) came back to say thanks. Really? One? That’s 10%. I tell my kids to say thanks to the old lady that gives them burnt cookies, if you know what I mean. In all things, give thanks. Right? But, no. Not these dudes.
Though, for this guy, this samaritan, (it means something) Jesus went above and beyond. He said, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” So not just his physical body, but apparently his spiritual life became restored too.
Here’s what I’m thinking. When you’re grateful, you become humble (hence the thanks) and when you allow yourself to be humble, you see God’s grace. How great is that?
This is just one reason why gratitude is so important. There are more, but we can go into that later. (or you can comment with your best reasons to be truly grateful)
So, the next question is how. How do we practice gratitude? Here are some ideas.
- Keep a Gratitude Journal
Just do it. You could list 5 things that you’re grateful for each day. Or, you could write a prayer of thanks. Somehow, some way, write down the reasons why you are thankful.
2. Write a Thank You letter!
Chances are, there are at least 5 people that have influenced your life. Maybe more. Maybe less. Write someone a thank you letter telling them what they mean to you. Express your gratitude. They need to hear it, and you need to express it.
3. Help a stranger in need.
This goes without saying, in my opinion. If you pay it forward, you are helping someone in need and they are teaching you about gratitude.
4. Always, always say Thank You.
No matter how big or how small, those acts are worth appreciating.
Gratitude, as a spiritual discipline, is both challenging and rewarding. It challenges us to find the best in all situations, and rewards us with the knowledge that there is always hope.