A guide to thankfulness 3: how can we express our thankfulness?

As part of Brickhill's Thanksgiving Weekend, I was asked to prepare some materials to help people spend time giving thanks to God. This is the third and final part.

God has given us many ways to express our thanks, here are some suggestions. Most of them can be done as an individual or with others.

1. Pray
- “[Daniel] got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God” (Daniel 6:10). “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people” (1 Timothy 2:1)
- This can also include speaking in tongues, as inferred from 1 Corinthians 14:14,16 “For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays… you give thanks with your spirit”.
- Talk with God about all the things you can be thankful for. Tell Him why you are grateful: what He taught you through those things or how else they blessed you. Thank Him that all of this is undeserved. You could write a prayer of thanks to Him.

2. With music and singing
- “The instruments for music to the Lord that King David had made for giving thanks to the Lord” (2 Chronicles 7:6). “Let us come into His presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to Him with songs of praise!” (Psalms 95:2).
- We’re invited to sing new songs (Psalm 96:1) so you could make up a spontaneous song, or write one. If you’re stuck for ideas, use the pattern of Psalm 136 to help you.

3. Meditation
- Biblical mediation is not emptying your mind but filling it with God’s truth.
- Spend time carefully looking at the Bible verses quoted in this document and considering their meaning. Dwell on God’s love, goodness, faithfulness – and how He has blessed you with these things. Ask Him to fill you with His Holy Spirit that you would know His love (Romans 5:5).

4. In conversations
- “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).
- Talk with friends and family about God’s goodness. Remind one another of the things He has done over the past year and create a list of blessings together.
- Is there a person you are particularly grateful for? You could spend time with them, write them a letter, or find a way to bless them to express your gratitude.

5. Memorialising
- Many times in the Old Testament, God’s people made visual statements to remind themselves of God’s goodness to them at a certain place (such as Joshua 4:1-7).
- Could you make something that will remind you of a certain act of goodness to you?
- Is there a place you can go to where you have particular cause to be thankful? If you can’t get to the place, use a photograph or your memory to take you there and spend time thanking God for what it reminds you of.

6. Communion
- The meal that Jesus celebrated with His disciples the night He was betrayed was the Jewish feast of Passover: a thanksgiving meal (see Exodus 13:3-10).
- He reconstituted it and gave it to us as a reminder of His amazing rescue of us from sin and death (Luke 22:14-20). It is the ultimate ‘Thank You’ meal.

7. Say ‘Thank you’ more!
- Whenever and wherever, humbly acknowledge your dependency and God’s grace.
- Say it to God, say it those around you – regardless of how they respond! “When we say, ‘Thank you,’ to someone, we humble ourselves as a person who has needs, and we exalt them as one who can meet those needs… ‘thank you’ is a gesture of humility that says [to a waitress, for example]: I am not eager to exalt myself as one to whom you owe service. I do not wish to presume upon your work as my due. I am happy to put myself in the position of one who receives grace.” (John Piper)

8. Keep living for God
- “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17). “Worship is a response” (Graham Kendrick).
- As you’ve been considering God’s grace to you, have you felt that there are any changes you want to make to your life? For examples, are there sins that you have been content to put up with that you now want to put to death? Make the most of this opportunity to gratefully commit yourself to God and His ways.
- Don’t forget that living for God as a thankful response to His salvation differs from the mistaken belief that you have to pay God back! He’s not looking for that because this is all about grace. And that takes us back to gratitude.

Part 1: Why should we be thankful?
Part 2: What should we be thankful for?