Helping You Thank Differently

Keith KettenringChristian Living, Prayer & Fasting, The Uncommon Journey

As I try to “practice what I preach” by being more thankful, I am experiencing new aspects of thankfulness. I observe what it does to me. What I’m discovering is that living more thankfully gives room for ongoing communion with God. In other words, real thankfulness consistently connects the heart to God.

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These experiences remind me of what Paul wrote: 

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5.16-18)

What he exhorts becomes more of a reality from experiencing thankfulness more fully. There is a radical transformational power when living a life of thankfulness. In thankfulness you know God as you know His will. It’s no longer a matter of repeating words from the Bible to get yourself into a better place; trying to convince yourself that what is written is true. It’s now a matter of actually living His will and life while experiencing the transformational effects of doing so. You are being transformed by actually doing His will. 

Three observations from this passage (in the context of experiencing thankfulness): 

1. This is one sentence. All three practices are to be practiced all at one time. Three practices equal one communion with God. Three practices, one reality.   

Always rejoice — pray unceasingly — in everything give thanks. These actions are inter-related; connected. They are bonded together as a formula for ongoing communion with God. Do you want a life of intimate communion with the Triune God? Then connect with God along this triadic path: rejoice, pray, give thanks always and in everything.  

These are three legs of a stool. Sit on it and commune with God.

This reminds us of the three members of the Trinity. Reside in their community by these practices.

2. Giving thanks is a means to communion with God in Jesus Christ. The ultimate purpose of thankfulness is oneness with God. The Greek word here is eucharisteite. In the eucharist you experience oneness with Jesus Christ. In a eucharistic life, a “giving thanks” life, you experience oneness with God. Expand your experience of thankfulness. Giving thanks to God in every moment and in every situation is a primary means of communing with God. 

Giving thanks implies a recipient of the thanks. You’re giving thanks to someone. When you do, there is a deep connection. This is true of God as well. 

3. All of this is God’s will for you.

Do you want to know God’s will for your life? Rejoice always. Pray always. Give thanks in everything. Clear and simple. 

Do you want to know what it is to live in Christ Jesus? Give thanks in everything. This is not theoretical nor emotional. It’s not even “spiritual.” When you are in Christ Jesus you give thanks in everything. Giving thanks in everything provides a fuller experience of living in Christ Jesus. 

This is what God wants for you. And, honestly, this is what you want for yourself. What a great way to live – doing God’s will in this way. 

The path to knowing God’s will is to rejoice always, pray always, give thanks always. Start here. Don’t make it more complicated than it is. 

The tough part is experiencing HOW to rejoice always, pray always, give thanks always. Here’s some help: 

  • Repeat throughout the day the Jesus prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
  • Be attentive to what is in front of you for which you can be thankful. Say, “Thank you for _________” throughout the day.
  • Begin your day by saying St. Philaret of Moscow’s Morning prayer:

O Lord, grant me to greet the coming day in peace. Help me in all things to rely upon Your holy will. In every hour of the day reveal Your will to me. Bless my dealings with all who surround me. Teach me to treat all that comes to me throughout the day with peace of soul and with the firm conviction that Your will governs all. In all my deeds and words, guide my thoughts and feelings. In unforeseen events, let me not forget that all are sent by You. Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering and embarrassing others. Give me strength to bear the fatigue of the coming day with all that it shall bring. Direct my will; teach me to pray; pray You Yourself in me. Amen. 

  • Consistently and thoughtfully say “Thank you” before each meal, as you awake and as you fall asleep. 

To a thankful and happy day,

Dr. K