When Gratitude Shapes the Soul

Have you ever noticed how so many New Testament books of the Bible begin with expressions of GRATITUDE?  For instance, Romans 1:8 begins, “Let me say first that I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith in him is being talked about all over the world.”

Let me say FIRST…

Something inside of us (in our souls) shifts when we take time to be grateful–to express gratitude to God and others.  When gratitude becomes a regular practice in our lives, we begin living differently.  We begin seeing things in our normal, ordinary days differently.  We become more aware of God and his presence.  Our whole disposition becomes lighter as we journey through our days. 

Our Altar Fly Fishing Team has been expressing our gratitude for how God has grown this ministry and what we see Him doing in the coming years.  What an awe-filled journey we are on and we are grateful for YOU.  For all who have followed, encouraged, prayed, leaned into these devotions, who have attended trips and those who have invested their time and financial support to make all of this possible…WE ARE GRATEFUL.  Let me say first…Thank you for being on the journey with us.

As we close 2020 and begin 2021, we offer you a few Gratitude Practices that will shape your soul (even in a season of life and history where many find thanksgiving and gratitude a challenge).  May God expand your heart as you express your gratitude to him and others.

GRATITUDE LIST.  Find a quiet place, sit still for 5-10 minutes, and simply slow down and breathe.  As you sit, repeat the words, “Thank you Lord.”  Then, make a list prayerfully of all the things for which you are grateful.  When finished, simply pray, “Lord, thank you for these blessings in my life.  I am grateful.  Amen.”

30 DAY GRATITUDE CHALLENGE.  In a notebook, journal, or document, make a list of what you are grateful for every day for 30 days.  You may choose to make your list throughout your day, at a designated time, or perhaps before you go to bed.  As you journey through the 30 days, pay attention to your life and soul.  What are you noticing?  At the end of 30 days, take 30 minutes to reflect on this exercise and how it impacted your life.  Then decide if you will repeat for another 30 days.

SHARE A WORD OF GRATITUDE.  Sometimes we underestimate the power of our words.  Spend one (or more weeks) with the daily goal of expressing a word of gratitude to one person each day.  It can be something small or of great significance.  Pay attention to how your words impact others and how your sharing of gracious words impacts you.  

EXAMEN: HUNTING FOR GRATITUDE.  The Examen is an ancient spiritual practice that helps draw attention to God’s presence and our attentiveness to God throughout our days.  Most simply, in the Examen we create space for quiet reflection and to mentally rewind our day (or week), asking questions like: Where did I sense God’s presence today?  Where was I following God’s leading and when did I forget or lose sight of God today?  For our gratitude focus, ask yourself these questions, “For what am I most grateful today?  How do I see the hand of God in my life?  

Feel free to invite others in your home, work, or wherever you spend time to join you in one (or more) of these practices.  When many people live from a posture of gratitude, both people and environments change for good.

Eric Camfield | November 2020