How We Give Thanks
Open Your Bible
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.