Guardians of Gratitude
How to Embark on Daily Journey of Watchfulness and Appreciation
It’s unfortunate that we focus so heavily on being thankful during the Thanksgiving holiday. It’s not unfortunate that we are thankful; it’s unfortunate that many wait until November before we actually express gratitude. Gratitude should be something we ponder daily, not yearly.
The Apostle Paul encourages us to focus our devotion on two primary areas. In Colossians 4:2 he compels us to, “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”
Watchful and thankful. What an interesting pairing? The term used here for watchful means to stay awake, alert and vigilant. He implores us to pay persistent attention. The imagery is of a guard on duty. No one would want a guard who fell asleep on the job or is easily distracted by unimportant interferences. Truly, someone with such great responsibility should be stable and predictably dependable.
It’s important to note that as Christians we aren’t instructed to be watchful because we are fearful. We should be watchful because we are expectant. We shouldn’t be worried about what the enemy is going to do, but we must be aware of what he is doing.
Your mandate isn’t to be fearful; it is to be watchful.
How do we battle the temptation to hide? By devoting ourselves to prayer. As we devote ourselves to prayer, we not only give our concerns, cares and anxieties to Jesus (1 Peter 5:7), we allow Him to impart boldness into us (2 Timothy 1:7) and confidence that He will never leave us for forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6).
To be watchful is to understand the surrounding circumstances. It is to understand the times and to know what to watch for, intercede for and defend against.
When you are attuned to your circumstances, you know how to pray. This is the role of the intercessor. The intercessor is not worried or fearful, but they are always on watch. They are on watch for their church, their leadership, their spouses, kids, nation, family and loved ones. They are watchful, refusing to let anything pass their spiritual gates.
But why partner thankfulness with watchfulness? Because it provides balance. If you are constantly watching for potential attacks, you will find yourself anticipating the negative and lose sight of the good things happening around you.
Thankfulness recalibrates your attitude. To be thankful is to express gratitude for benefits or blessings – to be pleased or even relieved. It’s important to note the difference between thankfulness and thanksgiving. Thankfulness is a feeling. Thanksgiving is an action. We can feel thankful but fail to give thanks.
In our prayer life we may see the hand of God moving and we are thankful, but we often forget to give thanks to God.
When you are moved to give thanks, your thoughts begin to supernaturally resemble the mind of Christ.
Thanksgiving can –
- Bring healing to a wounded heart.
- Calm an overwhelmed spirit.
- Provide peace to the anxious soul.
- Usher in joy, no matter the circumstance.
We must never allow thankfulness to exist without giving thanks. So, what does this look like in a real-life circumstance? Have you ever opened the door for someone, and they walked past you without saying, “thank you?” It can be irksome to make a kind gesture only for it to go unacknowledged.
Can you imagine how God feels? To give and give and give and give,but all His giving falls onto ungrateful, entitled children who barely receive blessing before moving onto the next desired thing. We can forget our lives are likely the result of past prayers which were answered. Why would God long to answer future prayers if we are ungrateful for what He has already done? And yet, in His grace, mercy and love, He does!
If we stop for a moment and simply give thanks to Him and others around us, we’ll find our spirit lift and our countenance change. As we devote ourselves to prayer, we become watchful and thankful. We are aware of the enemy, not in awe of the enemy. Our posture changes as we embody His word in our actions and speech.
This Thanksgiving season spend some time in prayer but perhaps this time don’t focus as much on the pleas for Him to do for you. Focus on giving thanks. Spend your entire dedicated prayer time thanking God for every single blessing that comes to your mind, ranging from the breath in your lungs to family and friends and everything in between. You can thank God for:
- Your home.
- Your job.
- Your spouse.
- Your kids.
- Your air conditioner working on a hot day.
- Chick Fil-A.
- You woke up today.
- His faithfulness.
- Your salvation.
- A Church family.
- and so much more.
Once you get started, you’ll begin to recall things you may have even taken for granted. You may also discover a draw toward forgiveness, releasing people who have hurt you. This is your chance to separate yourself from an egocentric prayer life to one that is watchful and thankful. Because everyone has something to be thankful for, and the good news is we don’t have to wait until November to show it.
Helpful Scriptures on Thanksgiving
Philippians 4:6 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
1 Thessalonians 5:18, NIV – give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Chronicles 16:34, Psalm 107:1, Psalm 106:1 – Give thanks to the Lord for His love endures forever.
2 Corinthians 4:15-16 – All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
Want more? Check out our on demand resources.
Family Life Radio is listener supported. Those who listen give to make the music and content possible to shine God’s love, peace and encouragement into hearts, revealing truths that direct people in the way they should go.
If you feel led to give a gift today to help others draw strength, gain wisdom and experience peace through Family Life Radio click here.