Thanksgiving is one of those rare times in our culture today that we take any time (assuming we do even then) to be thankful. Is it any wonder that the attitude of entitlement is so prevalent?! We can cultivate an attitude of gratitude by practicing these 3 simple steps over and over again:
- Pray about everything!
- Thank God in all circumstances (not for all circumstances).
- Consider that what we want is not necessarily what we need.
The Apostle Paul says it this way: Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7, NLT)
I find it hard to understand why we need to tell God what we need – He already knows!! In my experience, though, telling God what we need in prayer somehow results in the realization of what He has already done and is doing; naturally, that’s the Holy Spirit at work.
It can work the other way around too.
Thanking God for His goodness to us can lead us to the realization that we don’t need all that we think we do.
The apostle goes on to say, I have learned to be content no matter what happens to me. I know what it’s like not to have what I need. I also know what it’s like to have more than I need. I have learned the secret of being content no matter what happens. I am content whether I am well fed or hungry. I am content whether I have more than enough or not enough. I can do everything by the power of Christ. He gives me strength. (Philippians 4:11b-13, NIRV)
One of the little traditions that we do in my family at Thanksgiving, and other holidays and special occasions, is that we take turns around the dinner table to tell each other what we are thankful to God for. This helps us develop and conserve gratefulness (i.e. the opposite of entitlement). Everyone gets an opportunity to share: 4 year olds to 94 year olds, and everyone in between.
Sometimes it seems difficult, when life has been tough, but hearing other grateful hearts share is usually all that’s needed to encourage everyone to share something, even in the midst of painful life circumstances.
It requires a little bit of time, but produces the happy side effects of focusing our attention on the many ways God blesses us and also helps us to eat a little less, which is definitely something I need!