“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. Good intentions need good habits if we want good results.
One way to cultivate gratitude is through a month-long Gratitude Challenge that includes a reading plan, responding in prayer, 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 pie, this has made November a favorite season for me.
Each day I will post a devotional to go with the verses from that day’s reading plan. You can subscribe to or follow this site (see left-hand column) get a daily email.
The daily devotional will focus on the text and its theme, and is mostly material not in my book. However, to lean into thanksgiving during this season I’d encourage you to read The Grumbler’s Guide to Giving Thanks while you participate in this challenge. For those who want a PDF of this Reading Plan, download one here.
The Gratitude Challenge
Read and meditate on the Bible verses about giving thanks. See below for the thirty-day reading plan. Spend a month immersing yourself in verses about gratitude and thanksgiving, including ingratitude that gets in the way.
- RESPOND IN PRAYER
As you read God’s Word about gratitude, include a prayer of thanksgiving. Thank God for what you’ve learned about who He is, what He’s done, or the gifts He’s given.
Either after your time reading Scripture, or throughout the day, record five reasons to give thanks. Intentionally look for things God is doing or has done and give thanks. 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. You can write these down in a journal, on your Notes app, or find fun ways to do this like a Thanksgiving Tree, Gratitude Chain, or other great ideas available online.
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.
1. Matthew 7:9-11; James 1:17; 1 Corinthians 4:17; Romans 11:36
2. Daniel 2:17–23; 6:10; Romans 8:28–29
3. Psalm 100
4. Luke 17:11–19
5. 1 Chronicles 29:10–22; Leviticus 7:11–15
6. Romans 1:18–23; 12:1–2
7. Psalm 103
8. John 6:11, 23; 11:41; Acts 27:33–38; 1 Timothy 4:3–4
9. Philippians 4:4–9; 1 Thessalonians 5:16–18; 1 Peter 5:6–9
10. Exodus 14:10–14; 15:22–16:8; Philippians 2:14
11. 1 Chronicles 16:1–36
12. Psalm 9
13. Psalm 28
14. Psalm 136
15. Romans 6
16. Psalm 33
17. Matthew 26:26–29; Hebrews 8:6–13
18. Psalm 30
19. 1 Timothy 1:12–17; Ephesians 2:1–10; 2 Corinthians 4:15
20. Psalm 95
21. Psalm 118
22. 1 Samuel 8
23. Deuteronomy 8
24. Ephesians 1:3–14
25. 1 Corinthians 15:12-28, 35-58
26. Psalm 105
27. Psalm 104
28. Psalm 138
29. Psalm 145
30. Revelation 4:1–11; 7:9–17
(This Thanksgiving Challenge is adapted from the appendix of The Grumbler’s Guide to Giving Thanks, published by Moody Publishers.)
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