Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
It is good to follow the will of God, especially when it's laid out so clearly. This passage from 1 Thessalonians gives us three instructions:
Pray without ceasing
Give thanks in all circumstances
It occurs to me that developing a spiritual discipline of giving thanks in all circumstances will go a long way toward helping us "rejoice always" and "pray with without ceasing".
In an effort to help our families develop this spiritual discipline I've put together a worship project for Covenant families to do together at home during the month of November.
Keep a jar, bowl, vase, etc. in an open place visible to the whole family.
Every time some specific blessing occurs in anyone's life that they can point to and say: God did that, write it down on a small piece of paper and toss it in the jar.
During your Thanksgiving family dinner (or however you celebrate) take the papers out and read them out loud to everyone.
Whoever wrote each paper can share details to help everyone else remember and thank God for that blessing.
What's the point?
Our faith has never been one of isolation. God said "It is not good for man to be alone." [Genesis 2:18]. We are meant to share our lives, our joys, our burdens. Sharing the specific places in our lives where we have seen God move and bless us strengthens not only our own faith, but the faiths of our other family members as well.
It is much easier to find things to be grateful for if you're actively looking for things to be grateful for.
This in turn gives you specific and personal things to rejoice over and pray about. It's one thing to be encouraged by the stories of strangers and pastors. It is quite another to have first and second hand experiences shared by people you know personally and well.
This project is also an excellent tool to use to help our children develop the habit of looking for God working in their lives and celebrating Him working in the lives of those around them.
Ideas to implement
This project is malleable. Consider the ideas below and use whatever will work for your family. Don't stop there though, develop your own tradition!
For those who are artsy, consider decorating your jar to act as a visible reminder of the project, helping to keep it at the forefront of your mind.
Encourage kids to be an active part of the project. Let them fill out papers if they can. If they're not writing yet, they can still help identify things to be thankful for.
Consider keeping it specific and special. Maybe don't include "thank you for dinner" for 24 days in a row. Unless, of course, that is special.
Keep papers and pens by the jar so it's easy to use. Some people use post-its, some people get fancy and make tiny scrolls. Whatever fits your vibe, make if fun but easy.
When you read the papers at your family celebration, encourage questions, get detailed, share the whole experience so there's context.
Consider keeping your jar out all year long and collecting a year's worth of gratitude for God's blessing in your lives!