Cultivating a Grateful Heart


During the month of November and as we approach Thanksgiving Day, the messages of gratitude and giving thanks are seen everywhere. But what does it mean to live daily with an attitude of gratitude? How do we give thanks when life is not going as expected or is just plain hard? What if I don’t feel thankful?

I can relate. The struggle of choosing joy and gratitude is often a very real experience for me!

Yet, as followers of Jesus we are called to give thanks as a way of life.

How can we cultivate grateful hearts that give thanks to the Lord with our entire being?

Let’s look at a few words used in the New Testament for giving thanks:

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. —1Thessalonians 5:18

give thanks —eucharisteo —to be thankful; to express one’s gratitude; give thanks

  • Present tense — continuous or repeated action
  • Imperative mood ­—used to give a command
  • Active voice —action being accomplished by the subject of the verb (you do it!)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. —Philippians 4:6

Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. —Ephesians 5:4

thanksgiving —eucharistia—gratitude; active, grateful language; thanks to God as an act of worship

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. —Colossians 3:15

be thankful —eucharistos—(used only in Colossians 3:15) — thankful, mindful of favors, grateful

But what about those hard things in life…? How do we respond with gratitude when our hearts feel far from it?

In the midst of each of the words/phrases for thanksgiving is the Greek word charis which means grace. In order to cultivate a grateful heart, we need God’s grace—His unmerited favor, His divine influence on our hearts. We cannot do it alone!

Gratitude involves grateful language. It is vocabulary of the heart, soul, mind and tongue. It is the overflow of our realization and acknowledgement of all God has done for us. He has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus. He has restored our peace and joy. He has brought us back into right relationship and fellowship with Him.

Gratitude is an act of worship. God’s Word tells us that “out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” Our heart is not just our feelings, emotions, desires and affections—but also our mind and will. With our will we CHOOSE. Many times we may not FEEL like giving thanks, but we can CHOOSE to do so as an act of worship to God.

Feeling gratitude is not a prerequisite to giving thanks.” —T.M. Moore, The Thanksgiving Solution

What if every time I am tempted to be discontent, dissatisfied or worried, I turned that into a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Lord? How would this change my attitude and my demeanor?

When something comes to mind that causes discontent, disappointment, worry or anxiety—I turn it into an opportunity to praise God for who He is, what He has done and to express thanksgiving. It changes my attitude and gives me new perspective. Psalm 69:30 says we magnify God with our thanksgiving. That describes a new perspective. My discontent or worry becomes smaller and He becomes greater. And I find myself experiencing the joy, peace and contentment that only He can provide.

Psalm 50:23 says, the one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies God. My sacrifice of thanksgiving not only changes my mindset and attitude, but it brings glory to the Father!

What about you—are you discontent, disappointed, frustrated, worried or anxious about something in your life right now? Why not use it as an opportunity to turn it into a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Lord.

Grateful language is contagious! As we practice the grateful language of praise and as we turn our hearts and minds to Jesus—when life good and when life is hard—we’ll find our perspective and attitude not only changed but affecting those we encounter.

I know this is easier said than done! It is a constant—daily— struggle in my own life. I’d love to encourage and pray for you as you cultivate a grateful heart and seek to express grateful language. Leave a comment and I will add you to my prayer list.

Gratitude changes your perspective, heart, mind and attitude.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. —Philippians 4:7

Rejoicing in Him!

For further study, download the free e-devotional, ‘Tis the Season: Preparing Our Hearts and Homes for Christmas.

Copyright 2017, Susan Cady,

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Susan Cady

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