How to Offer Thanks with Meaning

Rub a dub dub, thanks for the grub. Yay, God.

Thanks for the bread. Thanks for the meat. Thanks for the taters. Good God, let’s eat.

Maybe your Thanksgiving meal will begin with a more eloquent blessing. Well-spoken or simple, the attitude of our hearts matters far more than the words spoken over steaming platters. Sometimes thankfulness is more easily said than felt, however.

We might struggle with gratefulness this year if …

  • emptiness haunts our household
  • finances strain us
  • infirmities oppress our loved ones
  • depression, anxiety, or other emotional issues shake the festivity from our holiday season
  • conflict plagues our families or community, or
  • things simply aren’t how we had hoped

Even if Thanksgiving greets us when our hearts feel empty, it is still possible to offer prayers of meaningful gratitude. In our darkest moments, prayers of thanks are more critical than ever. They are vital to the well being of our souls.

How can we offer heartfelt thanks from joy-starved hearts? Identifying things to be grateful for can seem impossible when we’re in the midst of hardship. In her lyrically crafted One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp chronicles her personal battle to lay hold of gratitude using a journal as her means to victory. A gratitude journal provides a great means to forge the path from emptiness to offerings of thanks.

When considering entries into your journal, a mental hack can help you get off to a running start. Imagine everything for which you fail to be thankful will vanish tomorrow. What might you miss?

Here are a few categories to spur your meditation:

  • Body parts (fingers, toes, e.g.)
  • function (breathing, digestion, walking, e.g.)
  • provision (even if the food isn’t your favorite, perhaps you’ve still eaten today)
  • shelter
  • breathable air
  • clean water to drink
  • freedoms of speech and worship
  • Scripture
  • salvation
  • grace
  • God’s love and mercy
  • God’s presence with us
  • hope of eternal life (beginning now with Christ beside us, not only after our deaths)
  • Peace with God
  • The family of Christ
  • future friends we’ve not yet met
  • Soldiers
  • First Responders
  • pastors, mentors, writers who’ve inspired us
  • strangers who smile at us and say hello

Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list. I pray these bullet points can help you begin. If you’re struggling, however, please don’t insist upon doing so alone. Reach out to a pastor, counselor, or supportive friend for help. Just as the rest of our body will bear the burden of an injured part, the body of Christ is designed to support its wounded up in prayer and love.

When we offer our hearts to one another in blessings, our souls grow more into the likeness and strength of Christ. Those in our supportive prayer huddles receive a blessing as they offer us love. Similarly, we benefit from showing heartfelt gratitude to others. Consider adding a demonstration of gratitude to your holiday celebrations. Even if you can’t think of a personal acquaintance to appreciate, a kind word, card, or small act of kindness can create a reciprocal blessing for

  • Soldiers
  • First Responders
  • Nurses
  • Nursing home workers
  • Volunteers
  • veterans
  • pastors and lay ministers

Who else might we consider ourselves blessed to have in this world around us? Please share your inspiration in the comments.

Thanksgiving offers the perfect opportunity to recognize the blessings we take for granted. As my small token of appreciation, I’ve added a list of scriptures about thankfulness below. I’m grateful for each of you, and pray you’ll receive thankfulness and peace this holiday.


Be Encouraged,


“Continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” – Colossians 2:6-7

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” – Colossians 3:15

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” – Colossians 4:2

“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe” – Hebrews 12:28

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