Gratitude begins with the recognition of favor, kindness, and generosity.
Every blessing in your life is the result of someone’s favor, kindness, and generosity. But gratitude moves beyond the recognition stage to the expression of thankfulness toward those who bless our lives.
Gratitude makes life worth living. It makes bad times bearable, good times better, and all seasons an occasion to express thanks. Giving thanks not only blesses the heart of the benefactor, it is good for the heart of the beneficiary. Grateful people are happy people.
Gratitude creates a peaceful and pleasant environment. The choice to bless reduces stress. Agitation, aggravation, and irritation rob us of peace. But gratitude creates a calm and inviting presence. Grateful people make good companions. William Romaine said, “Gratitude to God makes even a temporal blessing a taste of Heaven.” And those who have tasted heaven’s sweetness carry a healthy climate of well-being wherever they go.
Gratitude has a vertical dimension. One of the protocols for prayer is found in Psalm 100, “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving” (v. 4). Our approach toward heaven starts with a thankful heart. One of the great lessons in life is learning the benefits of becoming a grateful person. We must become proficient in the Law of Recognition. When our eyes are wide open to the mercies of God we perceive His favor, mercy, and generosity. These gifts should never be taken for granted, but always with gratitude.
Ingratitude is the mother of evils. It is the gateway to depravity. Man’s descent to debauchery began with the failure to glorify God and ungratefulness. This opened the door to unspeakable evil (see Romans 1:21-32). Ingratitude yields a bitter harvest. Grumblers are never grateful. Complaining is the road to misery. Murmuring opens the door to bitterness and promotes rebellion. Ken Keyes said, “To be upset over what you don’t have is to waste what you do have.” A grateful mindset frees us from a critical and cynical spirit.
Thankfulness is the key to enjoying life. Eric Liddell said, “Circumstances may appear to wreck our lives and God’s plans, but God is not helpless among ruins. Our broken lives are not lost or useless. God’s love is still working. He comes in and takes the calamity and uses it victoriously, working out His plan of love.” Our response, especially in difficult seasons, help make the crooked ways straight. This is why we must practice the art of gratitude in prayer.
Intentional Gratitude. One of our “prayer assignments” is thanksgiving. “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 5:20). Note the verse says, “Always” and “all things”. It makes no distinction between good or bad. We must choose to thank God because He is good, even when our circumstances are not. Cultivate gratitude until it becomes your first response.
Abundant Gratitude. The Apostle Paul suffered deprivation, defamation, and countless injustices: yet he remained profoundly thankful. With only a cursory glance I found over ten instances where Paul was thanking God instead of complaining about his problems. Unrelenting gratitude was the key to his joy. Thanksgiving is always in season. Stop counting your bruises, and start counting your blessings!
Pre-reception Gratitude. Prayer is your lifeline to heaven. And thanking God beforehand is the essence of faith. E. M. Bounds said, “Prayer is the appointed means to convey the blessings that God designs to give.” Prayer shapes the future. It is reception through anticipation. Thanking God is the first step of faith. There is more to prayer than asking. It is asking, and believing! Appropriation in prayer means that we say “thank you” to God before the answer is realized. Faith honors God, and God honors faith. Believing is the secret to receiving. So start thanking God in advance.
Grateful people bless the heart of God. They bless all the people with whom they associate. They are conduits of life. And they themselves are blessed. A grateful heart creates an atmosphere of serenity.
You can master the art of gratitude. Your background and personality type are irrelevant. The key of gratitude will unlock your own happiness. As you recognize and express your appreciation to the Lord, you bring pleasure to God. His joyful presence becomes your dwelling place. As you practice gratitude each day, it creates an environment that lifts others.
No wonder the scripture says, “O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good; for his mercy endureth forever” (1 Chron. 16:34).
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