“Gratitude, Grace and Joy”, from Henri Nouwen (Faith, God’s Presence, Hidden Blessings)

Quotes on Gratitude from Henri Nouwen:

“In the past I always thought of gratitude as a spontaneous response to the awareness of gifts received, but now I realise that gratitude can also be lived as a discipline. The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy.”

“Gratitude as a discipline involves a conscious choice. I can choose to be grateful even when my emotions and feelings are still steeped in hurt and resentment. It is amazing how many occasions present themselves in which I can choose gratitude instead of  complaint. I can choose to be grateful when I am criticized, even when my heart still responds in bitterness. I can choose to speak about goodness and beauty, even when my inner eye still looks for someone to accuse or something to call ugly. I can choose to listen to the voices that forgive and to look at the faces that smile, even while I still hear words of revenge and see grimaces of hatred.”

“There is always the choice between resentment and gratitude because God has appeared in my darkness, urged me to come home, and declared in a voice filled with affection: “You are with Me always, and all I have is yours.” Indeed, I can choose to dwell in the darkness in which I stand, point to those who are seemingly better off than I, lament about the many misfortunes that have plagued me in the past, and thereby wrap myself up in my resentment. But I don’t have to do this. There is the option to look into the eyes of the One who came out to search for me and see therein that all I am and all I have is pure gift calling for gratitude.”

Gratitude is a choice to encounter grace

“The choice for gratitude rarely comes without some real effort. But each time I make it, the next choice is a little easier, a little freer, a little less self-conscious. Because every gift I acknowledge reveals another and another until finally, even the most normal, obvious, and seemingly mundane event or encounter proves to be filled with grace. There is an Estonian proverb that says: “Who does not thank for little will not thank for much.” Acts of gratitude make one grateful because, step by step, they reveal that all is grace.” (The return of the Prodigal Son,85)

“Of course, it is easy for me to push the bad memories under the rug of my consciousness and think only about the good things that please me. It seems to be the way to fulfillment. By doing so, however, I keep myself from discovering the joy beneath the sorrow, the meaning to be coaxed out of even painful memories. I miss finding the strength that becomes visible in my weakness, HIS grace God told Paul would be “sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) 

“Gratitude helps us in this dance (of life) only if we cultivate it. For gratitude is not a simple emotion or an obvious attitude. Living gratefully requires practice. It takes sustained effort to reclaim my whole past as the concrete way God has led me to this moment. For in doing so I must face not only today’s hurts, but the past’s experiences of rejection or abandonment or failure or fear. While Jesus told His followers that they were intimately related to Him as branches are to a vine, they still needed to be pruned to bear more fruit (see John 15:1-5). Pruning means cutting, reshaping, removing what diminishes vitality. When we look at a pruned vineyard, we can hardly believe it will bear fruit. But when harvest comes, we realise that the pruning allows the vines to concentrate their energy and produce more grapes.

“Grateful people learn to celebrate even amid life’s hard and harrowing memories because they know that pruning is no mere punishment, but preparation. When our gratitude for the past is only partial, our hope for the future can likewise never be full. But our submitting to God’s pruning work will not ultimately leave us sad but hopeful for what can happen in us and through us. Harvest time will bring its own blessings.

Everything is Grace

 “I am gradually learning that the call to gratitude asks us to say, “Everything is grace.” As long as we remain resentful about things we wish had not happened, about relationships that we wish had turned out differently, mistakes we wish we had not made, part of our heart remains isolated, unable to bear fruit in the new life ahead of us. It is a way we hold part of ourselves apart from God.

“Instead, we can learn to see our remembered experiences of our past as an opportunity for ongoing conversion of the heart. We let what we remember remind us of whose we are—not our own, but God’s. If we are to be truly ready for a new life in the service of God, truly joyful at the prospect of God’s unfolding vocation for our lives, truly free to be sent wherever God guides, our entire past, gathered into the spaciousness of a converted heart, must become the source of energy that moves us onward.” (Turn My Mourning into Dancing, 18-20)

“It is so easy for me to put the bad memories under the rug of my life and to think only about the good things that please me. By doing so, however, I prevent myself from discovering the joy beneath my sorrow, the peace hidden in the midst of my conflicts, and the strength that becomes visible in the midst of my weakness.” (All is Grace, 40)

“To be grateful for the good things that happen in our lives is easy, but to be grateful for all of our lives the good as well as the bad, the moments of joy as well as the moments of sorrow, the successes as well as the failures, the rewards as well as the rejections that requires hard spiritual work. Still, we are only grateful people when we can say thank you to all that has brought us to the present moment. As long as we keep dividing our lives between events and people we would like to remember and those we would rather forget, we cannot claim the fullness of our beings as a gift of God to be grateful for. Let’s not be afraid to look at everything that has brought us to where we are now and trust that we will soon see in it the guiding hand of a loving God.”

God at the Center of all Life

“A life of faith is a life of gratitude—it means a life in which I am willing to experience my complete dependence upon God and to praise and thank Him unceasingly for the gift of being alive. A truly eucharistic life means always saying thanks to God, always praising God, and continuing to be surprised by the abundance of God’s goodness and love. How can such an attitude not lead to a joyful life? It is the truly converted and blessed life in which God has become the center of all. There gratitude is joy and joy is gratitude and everything becomes a surprising sign of God’s presence.”(Show me the Way, 15)

“Joy and gratitude are the qualities of the heart by which we recognise those who are committed to a life of service in the path of Jesus Christ.. . .Wherever we see real service we also see joy, because in the midst of service a divine presence becomes visible and a gift is offered. Therefore, those who serve as followers of Jesus discover that they are receiving more than they are giving. Just as a mother does not need to be rewarded for the attention she pays to her child, because her child is her joy, so those who serve their neighbour will find their reward in the people whom they serve. The joy of those who follow their Lord on His self-emptying and humbling way shows that what they seek is not misery and pain but the God whose compassion they have felt in their own lives. Their eyes do not focus on poverty and misery, but on the face of the loving. (Compassion, 32)

“Christian Quotes, Scripture & Prayer on Gratitude”, from L.Willows (God’s Mercy, Grace, Thanksgiving)

Christian Quotes on Gratitude

 “We need to discover all over again that worship is natural to the Christian, as it was to the godly Israelites who wrote the psalms, and that the habit of celebrating the greatness and graciousness of God yields an endless flow of thankfulness, joy, and zeal.” –J.I. Packer

“God doesn’t want us to just feel gratitude, but for us to show it by giving thanks to God with our lives.” –Tim Keller

“It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.” –Charles Spurgeon

 “We ought to give thanks for all fortune: if it is good, because it is good, if bad, because it works in us patience, humility and the contempt of this world and the hope of our eternal country.” –C.S. Lewis

“To be grateful is to recognize the love of God in everything He has given us — and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him.” –Thomas Merton

“Gratitude is an offering precious in the sight of God, and it is one that the poorest of us can make and be not poorer but richer for having made it.” –A.W. Tozer

“If I succeed, I will give thanks. If I fail, I will seek His grace.” – Max Lucado

 “Yes, give thanks for ‘all things’ for, as it has been well said ‘Our  disappointments are but His appointments.’” –A.W. Pink

” A sensible thanksgiving for mercies received is a mighty prayer in the Spirit of God. It prevails with Him unspeakably.” — John Bunyan

“Gratitude is what you feel. Thanksgiving is what you do.” –Tim Keller

“God has promised to supply all our needs. What we don’t have now, we don’t need now.”–Elizabeth Elliot

” The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!” — Henry Ward Beecher

“In ordinary life, we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.” – Bonhoeffer

“There should be a parallel between our supplications and our thanksgivings. We ought not to leap in prayer, and limp in praise.” – Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“Thanksgiving with the mouth stirs up thankfulness in the heart.” – John Piper

Scripture on Gratitude

2 Corinthians 4:15 — 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.

Colossians 1:12 — And giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.

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

Psalm 7:17 —  I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness; I will sing the praises of the name of the LORD Most High.

Psalm 28:7 —The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.

James 1:17 —  Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows

Here are five Psalms that Praise God for His Goodness and Faithfulness:

1. Psalm 136. God’s beautiful love for you never changes, never falters, and never ends. Psalm 136

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.(136:1)

2. Psalm 117. God’s faithfulness toward you goes on forever. Psalm 117

Praise the Lord, all nations!
 Extol him, all peoples!
 For great is his steadfast love toward us,
 and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.
Praise the Lord! (117:1-2)

3. Psalm 100. God is God: worthy of praise, awesome in creative power, and full of goodness.  Psalm 100

Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his (100:3)

4. Psalm 139. God purposefully created you as an intricate work of art, and He cares about every little piece of you.   Psalm 139

For you formed my inward parts;
 you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
 Wonderful are your works;
     my soul knows it very well. 

My frame was not hidden from you,
 when I was being made in secret,
     intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
 in your book were written, every one of them,
 the days that were formed for me,
     when as yet there was none of them.

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them! (139:13-17)

5. Psalm 42. God is the greatest hope and encouragement for a worn-out soul. Psalm 42

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
 and why are you in turmoil within me?
 Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
     my salvation and my God. 

Gratitude’s Prayer, “Falling before YOur Throne”

Father God,

We come before you with hearts of humility and love- we fall before Your Throne with awe, our hearts are full. In thankfulness we come before The Altar of Your Grace.

Lord of Lords, Christ Almighty, You hear the calling of all who speak your Holy Name. We are grateful Your Eternal Presence and abiding faithfulness.

You are Our Shepherd, Our Protector and the One that Secures each step. Your Spirit anoints the way for Your Beloveds. We give thanks for such Holy Presence and for the power of Your Name.

We bow before you aching to love more, to learn to be more obedient to your will, your word and your truth. Do you need to break our hearts so that we might wake to You? Lord, then we submit to You. Have mercy upon us and give us teachable and soft hearts. Give us patience and endurance as we learn to walk in the Light of Your Holy Spirit.

Your tent is merciful and wide. Stretch our hearts as we shelter in your grace. Help us be graceful to one another and be people of mercy. Help us to learn to forgive as we have been forgiven. Lord, as You draw us into the great Reconciliation, teach us to reconcile with one another and more -to love as we have been loved by You.

Thank you for such generous mercy as You have given to us. Thank you, Lord, for the sacrifice of sufferings unspeakable that you have known so that we may be saved by Grace.

My most personal Savior, Lord Jesus- I fall upon your Throne, the most majestic altar in all of Heaven. High and mighty, above and beyond all that my heart can imagine yet so near and close that Your Kingdom touches me, even me- like the Hand of a Shepherd that will never leave, whose kindness, love and mercy is so enduring and generous that it cannot not be spent in time as my heart can fathom. So, I fall upon Your Kingdom Throne like a child in a Your majestic wonderland, filled with hope and gratitude because Lord Jesus, Your Love Pours miracles and Your power is limitless. I pray on behalf of all who read and believe in You!

In the precious Name of Jesus Christ

Amen

©2020 L.Willows

“Evening Praise and Prayer”, Devotions of the Puritians; Valley of Vision

Evening Praise


Giver of all, another day is ended and I take my place beneath my great redeemer’s cross, where healing streams continually descend,

where balm is poured into every wound, where I wash anew in the all-cleansing blood, assured that Thou seest in me no spots of sin.

Yet a little while and I shall go to Thy home and be no more seen; help me to gird up the loins of my mind, to quicken my step, to speed as if each moment were my last, that my life be joy, my death glory.

I thank Thee for the temporal blessings of this world —

the refreshing air, the light of the sun, the food that renews strength, the raiment that clothes, the dwelling that shelters, the sleep that gives rest, the starry canopy of night, the summer breeze, the flowers’ sweetness, the music of flowing streams, the happy endearments of family, kindred, friends.

Suffer me not to be insensible to these daily mercies. Thy hand bestows blessings: Thy power averts evil.

I bring my tribute of thanks for spiritual graces, the full warmth of faith, the cheering presence of Thy Spirit, the strength of Thy restraining will, Thy spiking of hell’s artillery.

Blessed be my sovereign Lord!

Evening PrayeR

O lover of Thy people, Thou hast placed my whole being in the hands of Jesus, my redeemer commander, husband, friend, and carest for me in Him.

Keep me holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners; may I not know the voice of strangers, but go to Him where He is, and follow where He leads. 

Thou hast bathed me once for all in the sin removing fountain, cleanse me now from this day’s defilement, from its faults, deficiencies of virtue, harmful extremes, that I may exhibit a perfect character in Jesus.

O Master, who didst wash the disciples’ feet, be very patient with me, be very condescending to my faults, go on with me till Thy great work in me is completed.

I desire to conquer self in every respect, to overcome the body with its affections and lusts, to keep under my flesh, to guard my manhood from all grosser sins, to check the refined power of my natural mind, to live entirely to Thy glory, to be deaf to unmerited
censure and the praise of men.

Nothing can hurt my new-born inner man, it cannot be smitten or die; nothing can mar the dominion of Thy Spirit within me; it is enough to have Thy approbation and that of my conscience.

Keep me humble, dependent, supremely joyful, as calm and quiet as a sucking child, yet earnest and active.

I wish not so much to do as to be, and I long to be like Jesus; if Thou dost
make me right I shall be right; Lord, I belong to Thee, make me worthy of Thyself!

Source: Puritan Prayers from Valley of Vision