Day 4

How We Give Thanks

from the Give Thanks reading plan

Ezra 3:11, Acts 2:42-47, Ephesians 5:15-21, Philippians 4:4-9, Colossians 4:2

BY Guest Writer

Scripture Reading: Ezra 3:11, Acts 2:42-47, Ephesians 5:15-21, Philippians 4:4-9, Colossians 4:2

I was somewhat unfamiliar with the concept of spiritual disciplines until I took a class on them in seminary. In that course, we read a litany of life-changing books on prayer, fasting, Sabbath, and more. The guilt-inducing tradition of daily “quiet time” in my life was transformed into a rich and beautiful understanding of practices that led me closer to the heart of Jesus.

There are different ways to categorize spiritual disciplines, which are regular exercises that strengthen our faith. Spiritual disciplines are the stretching, sprints, pace runs, and hill drills of the Christian life.

Richard Foster, who wrote the seminal Celebration of Discipline, places these disciplines into three buckets: inward (meditation, prayer, fasting, study), outward (simplicity, solitude, submission, service), and corporate (confession, worship, guidance, celebration).

As I read through today’s Scriptures, passages that show us how to give thanks, the actions of gratitude overlapped with many of the spiritual disciplines I’d studied: praise (Ezra 3:11), simplicity (Acts 2:45), corporate worship (Acts 2:46), feasting (Acts 2:46), singing (Ephesians 5:19), prayer (Philippians 4:6; Colossians 4:2).

Gratitude is a daily discipline that must be practiced, like stretching after a long run or racing up and down stairs to strengthen different muscle groups. It is an instruction found throughout the Bible—not a “say please and thank you” sort of direction like you would give a child, but a command to bring gratitude into every sphere of living and every moment of the day: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).

And so, we give thanks in practice, with actions: with praise, worship, feasting, singing, and prayer. We give thanks inwardly, outwardly, and corporately. How we give thanks reflects the One to whom we give thanks. He is an active, engaged, intimate, and corporate Father. To Him be all glory, and thanksgiving, forever.


Melanie Rainer is a bookworm from birth who makes her days writing, editing and reading in Nashville, where she also joyfully serves as the editor of Kids Read Truth. She has an M.A. in Theological Studies from Covenant Seminary, spends as much time as she can in the kitchen, and can’t wait until her two daughters are old enough to read Anne of Green Gables.

Post Comments (59)

59 thoughts on "How We Give Thanks"

  1. Leslie Ashe says:


  2. JennyKate Boardman says:

    Today I am grateful for my life, my friends and family, and for the Lord!

  3. Kristen Meredith says:


  4. Tobe Ajomale says:

    Absolutely love this devotional! The best!! Excited about it, more importantly im excited to see what God will reveal to me and how it’ll positively affect everything in my life. God bless you

  5. Kathy Holdge says:

    Love the reminder about communion. I sometimes get lost in the routine and am glad for the reminder to savor and taste each crumb and be thankful

  6. Mia Herne says:

    Ezra 3:11 was an answer from God as I have reached out to Him about wanting my Advent celebration and devotions to take on something intentional and well lets say grand. My heart has felt a heavy burden and concern for our Jewish friends. I think of President Trump and his family –they are Christians but his daughter and son-in -love are Jewish. I pray that God will use them some how to show them that Jesus is the Messiah our Jewish friends have been seeking. This passage is Ezra talks about the foundation for building the temple . Jerusalem is now Israel’s capitol. I believe God is at work. Join me in prayer.

  7. Kaila says:

    I loved this reading. A lot of practical ways to get closer to God in daily life, and I now want to take a deeper dive into learning more about spiritual disciplines.

  8. Annelise says:

    I’ve found it hard to keep up with spiritual disciplines with young kids in the house. But these years are going by whether I am practicing it or not.

    1. Hannah Fratzke says:

      I have a newborn and I’ve found it really difficult as well. I think that we can posture ourselves so that when we care for our little ones, households, and husbands it is an act of worship. When I wake up in the middle of the night to nurse or change a diaper I do it in a way that praises God (or at least I try). The Lord delights in us whether we’re able to take an hour of quiet time or not, His presence is with us always.

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