Friday, November 8, 2019

3 Ways to Cultivate a Heart of Gratitude

Have you ever heard the saying, a grateful heart is a magnet for miracles? I don't think it means that if you reluctantly try to be grateful, that you'll suddenly experience something miraculous. But I do think that when you begin to cultivate a heart of genuine gratitude, you will be more aware of the everyday blessings, no matter how small.


Giving thanks tends to be something we focus on in the weeks leading up to November. While it's absolutely important to be grateful during the holidays, especially leading up to Christmas, I think most of us could do a little better about being grateful all year long. Don't get me wrong, I know it can be hard. I've gone through seasons where I struggled to find the simplest thing to be thankful for. Coming up on the holidays this year, it will be even more difficult as my family and I navigate this time of year without my mother in law. But I know that those hard times are the ones I need gratitude all the more. So whether you find yourself in a difficult or busy season or if like anyone of us, you could just use an extra dose of gratitude, I want to encourage you to try one of the following practices to help cultivate a heart of gratitude.

P.R.A.Y. 

One way I am working on being more thankful is through prayer. My women's Bible study is currently going through the book Fervent by Priscilla Shirer. In the book she mentions an acronym for P.R.A.Y. and it starts with Praise, followed by Repentence, Asking and Yes. She says this about praise...
"Thanksgiving is one of the most important aspects of prayer. It's not just a means of warming up (or buttering up). It's not just a preamble before getting down what we really want to say. Gratitude to God for who He is and what He's already done should thread throughout every prayer because ultimately His name and His fame are the only reasons any of this matters."
Reading that challenged my perspective on gratitude. Am I giving thanks just because I hope I get something from it or am I giving thanks out of a heart of gratitude without expecting anything in return? It has become part of our Bible study prayer time that we start with praise. Sometimes this is finding something from a list of the attributes of God to praise Him for. Other times it's just praising Him for something He has done. Spend some time in prayer today remembering what God has done and thanking Him for who He is.

Bible Journaling as a Record of God's Work in Your Life

The next way I am working to cultivate a heart of gratitude is through my Bible journaling. This can look like using your Bible journaling as a way to record things you are thankful for and I absolutely encourage that. However, one of my favorite things about Bible journaling has been having that record of how God has been working in my life. I can look back on certain entries and recall what was going on in my life at the time and how God has worked in that situation since. For example, I did the page below based on a sermon I heard the end of 2017. I was in a season where I was seeking some direction for where God was leading me. Looking back now, I can see all the things he has done in the couple of years since and I can't help but be thankful for it.


More than just a way to record your thanks or keeping a record to look back on, Bible journaling is a way to put the focus on the scripture and less on me. Of course we can use our Bible journaling as a way to work through things going on in our lives but the primary focus is on the Word. Nothing else can shift your focus like opening your Bible and digging in. 

Fill Your Mind with Positive Influences 

Over the past year or so I have often said that what goes in is what will come out. By this I mean that if you put things in your mind that cause you to be fearful or jealous, those things will be what you experience. However, if you put in things in that help you to focus on joy and gratitude, you are more likely to feel joy and be thankful. Obviously, this is not a fool proof formula but I have found the more that I read my Bible, pray and listen to worship music, the easier it is to have a better attitude. A simple way to be more intentional about this is just to have a verse written on a card and place it somewhere you will see often. This will help you focus more on that verse instead of whatever it might be that is stressing you out. Another way is to listen to more worship music throughout your day. The main idea is to just be more aware of the things you are allowing into your mind and if necessary, replacing some of those things with more of God's truth. Below I have listed some resources to help you cultivate a heart of gratitude.

Thanks and Praise Spotify Playlist   


I created this playlist to use for my recent Bible journaling workshop but it's also been my recent favorite playlist. I chose songs that focused on giving thanks or praising God.

22 Scriptures for Thanks and Praise verse cards



available now in my Etsy shop Anchored Hope Prints: I created this verse card set as a simple way to have scriptures to read about thanksgiving and praise. I also used these in a recent workshop. One thing we did was to read through each one aloud. I loved how this practice helped us to focus on the Word. I purposely made this set with graphics that are not specifically fall themed because I want you use these at any time of the year, not just around Thanksgiving. My hope is that these cards will give you a starting point for your Bible journaling but also that you will use them to focus your heart on giving thanks. You can even print one set to keep together and another to use directly in your journaling.

FREE Gratitude Documented Prompts by Illustrated Faith


Illustrated Faith has been doing a project called Gratitude Documented for several years. They release the prompts for free but then offer other resources that you can use along with it. You can create a mini book, use a journal or create an entry in your Bible for each one. There's tons of ways you can use this!

Fervent by Priscilla Shirer


While this book is specifically focused on prayer, not necessarily gratitude, I wanted to share it as a resource because learning to create a deeper more meaningful prayer strategy can do much more than just make you more grateful!

100 Days of Grace and Gratitude - Devotional Journal by Shanna Noel


The second of Shanna's 100 Days books, 100 Days o Grace and Gratitude came out in 2018 and was part of that years Gratitude Documented. However you can work through the book at any time of the year and at whatever pace works best for you. Each day has a short devotional thought along with some scriptures and a place for you to journal.

First 15 Devotional - Encountering God Through Thanksgiving


First 15 has become one of my favorite resources. I often play the audio from one of the devotions during the first part of my workshops. This particular devotion was one that I used for my recent workshop that was focused on documenting gratitude.


What do you do to help cultivate a heart of gratitude? Do you have any additional resources you would like to share?

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