The importance of giving thanks to God


By Father Stephen Battey

Q. Do you have any tips to be more thankful to God in day to day life?

When I was growing up, I remember gathering together around the family table on Thanksgiving to take turns sharing some of things that we were thankful for. I suspect most people have a similar kind of tradition in their homes as well. Given the holiday, this is an opportune time for us to consider the steps we can take to give thanks for God’s many gifts not just once a year, but on a more regular basis as well.

The following are a few suggestions that may help establish this practice.

It seems to me that the first step in becoming more thankful for God’s gifts, is to reflect on the gifts themselves. The very fact that we exist and have life is itself an extraordinary gift from God, and the most fundamental place to begin. From there we can consider the ways God has been at work in our lives in more focused ways.

Who are the people that God has placed in our life? How has our parish helped foster our prayer and relationship with God? How has God’s grace borne fruit? The list goes on and is a little different for each of us, but one thing that is true for all is that God has a special care and concern for each and every person.

The second suggestion is to establish a fixed time to offer thanks to God. If we don’t commit to a fixed routine, it can be very difficult to build a new habit. One possibility could be incorporating additional time into our prayer of thanksgiving after Mass. After taking a moment to thank God for the gift of the Eucharist, we may want to consider spending a few additional minutes to expand our scope and see how God has been at work throughout the past week. Building off of other habits that have already been established can be a good way to ensure success.

Finally, consider sharing the fruits of this reflection with family, friends or other members of the parish community. The insight of those outside of ourselves may help us to recognize qualities or gifts from God that we may not have considered before. In addition, we may be able to provide this insight for others as well. With these suggestions in mind, may we come to a more frequent appreciation of the many gifts that God bestows upon us each and every day of our lives.

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“Ask the Newly Ordained” features Fathers Brian Morris, Joseph Brice and Stephen Battey — who respond to questions about the faith from Rhode Island Catholic readers.