The Priority of Gratitude

August 31, 2020  - By Amy Hale

Breaking Down Your Quiet Time Blog Series: Gratitude

This is part one in our series called “Breaking Down Your Quiet Time.” This week we are breaking down the daily sections in the Give Me Jesus Journal to help you better understand how to journal the Word and study Scripture. The new Give Me Jesus quiet time journal releases September 16th in the Well-Watered Women Co. We hope this series is edifying and encourages you to open the Word each day! (Note: You can use this daily breakdown in any journal if you are unable to purchase a Give Me Jesus Journal! Our mission is to equip you to study the Word, and we hope this makes that possible.)

An Excitement for the Word

As a 50-something grandmother who deeply loves the Lord and his Word, I’m still amazed that I lived the majority of my Christian life not reading my Bible. Sadly, I grew up with some misconceptions about Scripture. I thought it was probably irrelevant and boring since it was written so many years ago. If I’m honest, there was even a time when I felt that the Bible was essentially nothing more than a good book of stories to tell children in Sunday School.

I’m so grateful that God graciously opened my eyes to the truth. I’m blessed to now know the beauty, the power, and the absolute necessity of God’s Word. It is no exaggeration to say that meeting God daily on the pages of his Word has radically changed my life. He is much more real to me, and my relationship with him is so much more personal.

My enthusiasm was off the charts when I first established the habit of opening up Scripture and getting to know more about God and his will for my life! I couldn’t get enough of Bible study. Suddenly, I was reading it every day and sharing with others all the amazing things God was teaching me through it. But then something strange happened: I lost my joy.

A Helpful Understanding

One day I realized reading my Bible no longer excited me. I didn’t feel any different for having read it. This troubled me, of course, and I distinctly remember asking God, “Why do I feel this way? I’m reading your Word daily but I don’t feel the way I did in the beginning. Why is that?” I was really confused.

Just as I knew he would, God answered—but in a very unique way. Not long after I prayed, I pictured a scenario, which I believe was prompted by the Holy Spirit to teach me. In this scenario, I was with my husband at a romantic restaurant. My husband was smiling, trying to make eye contact with me, declaring his love for me, but I didn’t notice. I was preoccupied.

Instead, I was busy making a lot of notes on paper about how he looked, how he acted. I was writing down what I knew to be true about him. At one point, I even turned away from him so I could share with others about how great my husband was. But the whole time I was doing those things, I was missing our time together and not hearing the loving words he was seeking to communicate to me. I wasn’t enjoying our time together at all.

Fact-Finding or Fellowship?

Through this imagined scenario, it’s clear God was showing me that I had been treating my morning quiet time more like a fact-finding mission than fellowship with my Savior. Suddenly I realized I had stopped worshiping. I stopped adoring and was no longer seeking to know my Heavenly Father more personally. Instead, I was simply collecting information about him from what I was reading. That was what happened to my joy.

I realized then, that before I open my Bible, I really must first pause and prepare my heart to worship him as I meditate on his Word. Having learned that, it makes perfect sense to me that the very first section of the Give Me Jesus Journal daily page is specifically for writing down “Today’s Gratitude.”

Breaking Down Your Quiet Time Blog Series: Choosing Gratitude

Today’s Gratitude

When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do— after lifting up praise to God out loud—is sit down with my coffee and my journal and write down something I am grateful for. Sometimes it is just one thing. Other times it might be two or three things. But the priority of my morning is to “raise my gaze” by giving God praise for who he is. Then I focus on expressing my gratitude to him for what he has done by writing down at least one “gift” or blessing he has recently given.

Psalm 95:2 says, “Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!” We are to bring our gratitude and praise to him as we are in his presence each day. Beginning my quiet time by acknowledging my gratitude to the Lord for what he has done is a great way to draw near and to position myself to best hear from him.

This priority of thanksgiving sets the tone for my day. It helps me begin the day focused, thinking about what is true and right. It lifts my eyes off my circumstances by reminding me that God is in control and that every good thing I enjoy is from him.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17). 

An Act of Worship

Prioritizing praise and gratitude to God before I read my Bible is an act of worship that gets my heart and mind prepared to really enjoy fellowship with him. It guards against going through the motions as if I were doing a research paper! However, gratitude is not something to be reserved for certain times of the day. For example, I enjoy literally “counting my blessings” every weekend by adding (and numbering) God’s gifts in a pretty gratitude journal. I’ve found that reminding myself of all the ways God brought joy to my heart throughout the week is a really nice way to begin a new week.

Most importantly, I use gratitude like the mighty weapon it is when the enemy taunts me about hard things in my life, such as strained relationships or unanswered prayers. When that happens, I pull out my journal, jot down all I can think of that has brought joy to my heart, and thank God for each one. I smile and say, “Those things might be hard … but look at all that’s good.” Nothing improves my perspective like practicing intentional gratitude.

Your friend, Amy

Amy Hale is a wife, mom, and “GiGi” who lives in the Memphis, TN area. She loves teaching women how to cultivate friendship with God through daily prayer and study of His Word. She is a women’s Bible study leader, a speaker, and an accidental Instagram influencer. She loves all things Fall, singing in the car with her teenage son, and spoiling Oliver, her Bassett Hound. To see some of the helpful tips, resources, and insight she shares daily, follow her on Instagram @amyhale.

Our brand new Give Me Jesus Journal will be available in the Well-Watered Co. September 16, 2020. Learn more about the layout and heart behind the Give Me Jesus Journal here.

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