“Always be joyful and never stop praying. Whatever happens, keep thanking God because of Jesus Christ. This is what God wants you to do.” (CEV) 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
When my kids were younger, they would thank God for everything when they prayed. Their toys, their favorite TV shows, the weather, me, their dad—if it was a thing they could thank God for, they did. But, over time, they stopped thanking God for the little things.
In James 1:17a, we’re reminded that “Every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father who created all the lights in the heavens.” Unfortunately, it seems pretty easy for us to forget that “every good and perfect gift” doesn’t just mean the big things.
God wants us to thank him for everything: big or small, easy or hard, and whether we’re happy or sad. It’s not always easy to remember to thank God for everything, but if you want to get better at it, here are a couple of ideas for you to try.
At the end of the day, everyone goes around the table and shares one thing that they are thankful for. It could be something small, like Jasper, in the kid’s devotion, who found something for school, or it could be something big, like making a new friend. After you’ve taken a moment to pray and thank God for the different things, write them down and shove the papers in a jar.
While you could just say the items each day, one benefit of writing them down and saving them is you can look over them later. For instance, if you or your children are ever struggling and wondering if God really cares about you, you can pull the papers out of the jar and re-read all of the ways he has blessed you.
If you already have some type of system in place to help you remember to thank God every day, but you’ve noticed that your children are just saying the same things every day, like mine did, you can also shake up their prayer life by turning to scriptures and showing them how to pray from the Bible.
For example, if you are feeling particularly loved by God, you could pray Psalm 106:1:
“‘We will celebrate and praise you, Lord! You are good to us, and your love never fails.’ You have shown us your love by... [and then list the things you’re thankful for].”
Here are a few other verses you to try:
When things are great: James 1:17
When God has provided for your needs: Psalm 107:8-9
When you’re thankful for other people: Romans 1:8
When God has watched over you during trying times: Psalm 34:1-6
When life is hard: Habakkuk 3:17-19
When you are hurting: Psalm 69:29
I hope these ideas help you build a prayerful practice of thanksgiving in your family, and that you and your children are able to feel God’s joy whatever is happening in your lives right now.
Explore the why, when, and how to pray with your family. Check out Kids Corner's Faith Practices for Families: Prayer eBook.
Want to do a deep dive? Check out Family Fire's article https://familyfire.com/articles/teaching-our-children-to-thank-god