“It’s one thing to be grateful. It’s another to give thanks. Gratitude is what you feel. Thanksgiving is what you do.” Tim Keller
“I like to think of thankfulness as God’s ‘spiritual air freshener.’ It replaces the stale odor of resentment with clean, fresh-smelling air for the soul to breathe.” Gary Thomas
Gratitude is a bit like healthy eating. We all want it, and sometimes can do it for a few days, but our bad habits usually shoot us in the foot. Both take more than good intentions. They require replacing old habits with new ones.
One way I’ve tried to cultivate gratitude in my life is through a month-long Thanksgiving Challenge that includes a reading plan and recording reasons to give thanks. While we should practice thanksgiving year-round, November provides a great time to leverage the seasonal focus on gratitude to grow in thanksgiving to God. Alongside drinking the delicious Pumpkin Crème Cold Brew and eating my quota of pumpkin pies, this has made November a favorite season for me.
In addition to the Thanksgiving Challenge, I’ll post daily a devotional that goes with the reading plan. My hope is together we can use this month to know and enjoy God through the rhythm of thanksgiving.
The Thanksgiving Challenge
- Read and meditate on the Bible verses about giving thanks. See below for a 30-day list. Check back here daily or subscribe via the Follow button (on the left margin) for a daily devotional reading.
- As you read from God’s Word about gratitude, include a prayer of thanksgiving to God for something you’ve learned about who God is, what He’s done for you, or the gifts He’s given to you.
- During the day, intentionally look for things God is doing or has done and give thanks. Try to write down five things to thank God for each day. (Find fun ways to do this like a Thanksgiving Tree, Gratitude Chain, or other great ideas available online.) This doesn’t always have to be “spiritual.” One day you might thank God for the forgiveness given through Christ and the next day you might thank God for good football. Not all gifts are equally valuable but all gifts can be a source of thanksgiving.
Thirty-Day Reading Plan
Below are thirty passages on various aspects of thanksgiving. As you read them, notice how God is thanked, what He’s thanked for, and the results of giving thanks. Let it lead you into seeing God at work in your own life and thanking Him for it. Reflect on what they teach you about thanksgiving or reasons to give thanks. Then give thanks to Him in prayer.
- Matthew 7:9–11; James 1:17; 1 Corinthians 4:7; Romans 11:36
- Daniel 2:17–23; 6:10; Romans 8:28
- Psalm 100
- Luke 17:11–19
- 1 Chronicles 29:10–22; Leviticus 7:11–15
- Romans 1:18–23; 12:1–2
- Psalm 103
- John 6:11, 23; 11:41; Acts 27:33–38; 1 Tim. 4:3–4
- Philippians 4:4–9; 1 Thessalonians 5:16–18; 1 Peter 5:6–9
- Exodus 14:10–14; 15:22–16:8; Philippians 2:14
- 1 Chronicles 16:1–36
- Psalm 28
- Psalm 136
- Psalm 9:1–14
- Romans 6
- Psalm 33
- Matthew 26:26–29; Hebrews 8:6–13
- Psalm 30
- 1 Timothy 1:12–17; Ephesians 2:1-10; 2 Corinthians 4:15
- Psalm 95
- 1 Samuel 8
- Psalm 118
- Deuteronomy 8
- Colossians 1:3, 12; 2:7; 3:15–17; 4:2
- 1 Corinthians 15:12-28, 42-58.
- Psalm 105:1–22
- Psalm 145
- Psalm 104 (Thanksgiving)
- Psalm 146
- Revelation 4:1–11; 7:9–17