Praying With a Heart of Gratitude

by Shelby Dixon July 26, 2023
“Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind ...” Psalm 107:8 (NIV)

The blinking cursor mocked me as I tried to compose yet another email that didn’t start with an overly cheery “thank you!”

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel like I tend to overuse those two words. Whether someone replied to an email in a timely manner, held the door at a restaurant, or let me merge into a busy lane of traffic so I didn’t miss my turn (bless you, kind driver!), it’s not hard to find something to say thanks for. But I want my thanks to be meaningful, not just habitual.

One day as I painfully self-edited another email, trying to find a unique way to express my appreciation, the Holy Spirit poked my heart with crisp conviction.

If you’re so apt to thank others, why is it such a struggle to say those same words to the Lord?


It’s true though — as much as I’m always ready to spout off a sincere note of gratitude to a co-worker, I greatly struggle to thank the Lord consistently. I’m a pro at asking Him for things and, to be honest, low-key complaining about my circumstances. But I have to be intentional about incorporating gratitude into my prayers. Even then, it often feels forced, stiff and obligatory.

If you’ve been there, too, you’re not alone.

Recently, I read a quote from a Bible study about praying through Psalms that changed how I think about thanksgiving in my prayers: “Thanksgiving is our response to the love, blessing and compassion that flows from God onto us.”

We see that definition of thanksgiving in our key verse, Psalm 107:8: “Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind …”

This psalm describes four groups of people who found themselves in distressing situations — lost in the desert, chained up in prison, suffering physical affliction, and out at sea during a storm. God rescued the people in all four situations, bringing them to safety, freedom and healing. In response, our key verse is repeated four times throughout the psalm, calling the people to thank God because of what He’d done for them (Psalm 107:8; Psalm 107:15; Psalm 107:21; Psalm 107:31).

Reading this psalm makes me think: What amazing things has God done in my life? How can I respond? Psalm 107:1 instructs: “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever” (NIV).

Psalm 107 illustrates that thanksgiving requires remembrance. As humans, we are terribly forgetful. That’s why it’s so important for us to pay attention to answered prayers and the miracles we’ve witnessed God perform in our lives — we can even write them down, just as the psalmist does. Then we can take the time to look back at those records and remember God’s faithfulness and love. This is one way to cultivate a heart of gratitude.

Thanksgiving flows freely when we realize all God has given us. That list might look like:

  1. Salvation.
  2. Open communication with God.
  3. Loving friends and family.
  4. Breath in our lungs.
  5. New mercies each morning.

And so many other gifts God has given us, whether to meet our needs or purely for our enjoyment!

Friend, if thanksgiving doesn’t come naturally or feels more like an obligation than a delight, remember that God doesn’t require our thanksgiving as a formality or a show of politeness. His gifts don’t have strings attached. But He loves to hear our joy overflow into gratitude when we dwell on how wonderful His gifts are and how wonderful He is to give them to us.

He deserves every bit of our thanks. May we cultivate hearts that daily overflow with gratitude for all our Savior has done.

Dear Lord, thank You for everything You’ve done for me — and most importantly for sending Your Son as a sacrifice on my behalf. Please cultivate a heart of gratitude in me, and help me call to mind all the reasons to be overwhelmingly thankful to You today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


Your honesty is not too much for God to handle. If you’ve ever wondered, Does God really want me to talk to Him when I feel anxious, scared, ashamed, weak or desperate? we want to remind you that you can bring Him your thoughts and emotions even if they are untidy. Learn how to do this through our new study, Praying Through the Psalms: 30 Days To Uncomplicate How You Talk to God, starting August 7 in the free First 5 mobile app. Order your study guide today!






Today’s devotion writer, Shelby Dixon, is a contributing writer for the Praying Through the Psalms study guide. You can connect with Shelby on Instagram!


Psalm 100:4-5, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations” (NIV).

What if you committed to keeping a handwritten or typed record of the requests you bring to God in prayer, even just for a week or a month? Then you can revisit that list often to see how He answers your prayers, and when He does, give Him thanks!

What are five things you can thank God for today? Share your gratitude list in the comments!

© 2023 by Shelby Dixon. All rights reserved.

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