But the Christian life involves more than (but not less than) reading God’s Word and praying. I’m not at all sure I’ve mastered those two habits, but I’m working on them.
A third habit that really helps me is to practice a spirit of thankfulness. This might seem like an odd “discipline,” but it is certainly biblical. We read in Romans 1 that our default setting is unthankfulness: “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.” My foolish heart gets darkened when I stop being thankful.
For me this is a several-times-a-day habit. I’ll say to myself, “List five things you thank the Lord for. Right now!” It’s not all that hard to do. I’m still vertical (alive). I’ve got a great wife. I’m getting opportunities for significant ministry. We’ve been given six wonderful grandkids. I actually have people reading my blog! You get the picture.
We glorify God with thanksgiving (Ps. 69:3). We are to “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.” (Psalm 100:4). In fact, we are to overflow with thankfulness (Col. 2:7 says that we are to be “rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”) I don’t quite understand how I am to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus,” (I Thes. 5:18), but I believe it and I want to practice it! When it comes to joking around (which I like to do), Paul commands in Ephesians 5:4 the following: “Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.” And then my prayer life ought to help me with my anxiety and worry, for Scripture says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Phil. 4:6).
Is this a holy habit you want to cultivate? Then I thank God for you and pray for you to take steps toward that discipline! (to be continued)