Spiritual Disciplines: Giving Thanks

Posted on February 9, 2023.

At YWAM Denver the Lord continues to show His faithfulness and goodness to us. He has already answered so many of our prayers and is moving in ways that only He can do. We are so THANKFUL. We desire as a base to respond to the goodness of God with having hearts of gratitude and praising Him for what He has already done.

To have a heart of gratitude takes practice and discipline. This spiritual discipline goes much deeper than being thankful when life is good. Gratitude encompasses all of life, whether we are having the best day or the worst day. Gratitude is so important because it realigns our hearts with God’s heart. Having a heart of thankfulness is not about your circumstances, it’s about knowing the person of Jesus. 

Gratitude has been called the “gateway” spiritual discipline. As Psalm 100:4 invites us, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.” Gratitude opens our hearts to humility because it reveals our God-given neediness. Humility is a heart condition that recognizes that all of our blessings have been received, not earned. It understands how utterly deprived we stand before a Holy God. We simply can’t advance God’s Kingdom, be saved, or even love God in return without His own love for us first.

So we encourage you to take time to stop and receive God’s love. We don’t have to earn it, prove ourselves, or give anything. We simply just need to receive that we are His children and that His love never changes for us. That’s why we enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise!


A frequently asked question is: what about when we suffer or go through hardship?

Gratitude flows easily when we’ve got that paycheck. And it’s easy to lift up some heavenly appreciation when we only receive a warning, instead of a ticket, for speeding. We say, “Thank God!”…right? But what about when we don’t get our way? Or what about when tragedy comes? Can we still be thankful then?

The answer is yes! Painful events can shape us and build our character, but that doesn’t mean we have to simply smile through the pain and pretend that everything’s fine. We are allowed to grieve, sit in pain, and sorrow. In fact there are so many verses and stories about that exact thing. 

Working through and healing from life’s difficulties and tragic events can be overwhelming. Having a heart of gratitude, therefore, is not about looking at the bright side of things. And it’s not even acknowledging that things could be worse. Our thankfulness is never based on our circumstances. It’s based on a person.

The answer to our pain and suffering isn’t new circumstances but God Himself. Jesus came, not only to suffer for us, but to suffer with us. Isaiah describes Christ as being: “Despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief” (53:3). Jesus understands our pain and empathizes with us.

Practicing gratitude rests soundly in the assuredness that God will ultimately redeem every horrible situation in this life or the next. “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

This promise is huge and allows us to “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).