’Tis the season to give thanks! As Thanksgiving approaches, many people are considering how they can inspire and teach their families to give thanks! Of course, it’s important to give thanks year-round, not just in November, but hopefully this season can inspire a life of thanksgiving!
Here are some simple ways to show your family how to give thanks all year round!
Tell Your Family You’re Thankful for Them
The easiest way to teach your family to give thanks is to tell them you’re thankful for them! Try to make it a priority to tell each member of your family once a day something specific about him or her that you’re thankful for.
For example, you could tell your child that you’re thankful for her funny jokes or tell your spouse that you love how he always loads the dishwasher. Be specific!
Paul followed this model with the people of Corinth. In 1 Corinthians 1:4, he specifically says why he is thankful for these people: “I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus.”
Say Prayers of Thanksgiving
Praying together as a family is of critical importance, but it’s especially important to say prayers of thanksgiving together, not just prayers of supplication. As Paul says, “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:2).
Again, Paul encourages the Philippians (and us) to give thanks in all circumstances: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6–7).
When you pray together—whether at dinner or before bed—make sure to have everyone give thanks for one specific item. Encourage them to think of items they might ordinarily take for granted, like their health or friends!
Go around the table and give thanks for one thing
One tradition my dad has us do every Thanksgiving is to go around the table while we’re eating and each give thanks for one specific thing. Sometimes, it’s related to the past year, such as getting married or having a child. Other times, it’s something more timeless, such as a stable job.
If you institute this tradition—which I hope you do!—maybe you could even go around the table more than once if you have more than one item to give thanks for!
Singing is another great way to give thanks! The psalmist often talks about singing for thanksgiving and making a joyful noise!
Oh come, let us sing to the LORD;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into His presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to Him with songs of praise!
As a family, sing your favorite hymn that gives praise and thanks to God. Maybe even read a hymn-inspired devotion together! Discuss what the lyrics mean and how they make you feel. Hopefully, they’ll even inspire you to give thanks for new things each day!
Model a Life of Thanksgiving
Of course, the single best way to teach your family to give thanks is to model a life of thanksgiving yourself!
In fact, Paul notes that giving thanks is a crucial part of growing in your faith: “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving” (Colossians 2:6–7).
In addition, Paul implores the Christians in Ephesus—and us!—to replace any ill talk with thanks: “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving” (Ephesians 5:4). Make it a point to replace any negative or critical talk with words of thanksgiving!
During this season of Thanksgiving, encourage your family to live a life of thanksgiving to the Lord.