Journal Your Way to a Grateful Heart

Jotting down your daily blessings can improve your relationship with God.

Posted in , Mar 10, 2012

Daily Guideposts writer, Penney Schwab

But true praise is a worthy sacrifice; this really honors me. . . . —Psalm 50:23 (TLB)

The personal journal I’ve kept for nearly thirty years began as a challenge. I’d been grumbling about my circumstances, so a friend suggested I write down one thing, every single day, for which I was truly thankful. Even though the first entries were simple, it sometimes took me quite awhile to write, “Thanks, God, for a good night’s sleep” or “I praise You for keeping us safe during the hail storm.” Later, I began to praise God for answered prayer: “Thank You for Patrick’s finding just the right job . . . for guiding the doctor’s hand during my neighbor’s eye surgery . . . for giving me the right words for today’s speech.” Gradually the journal became a record of my walk with God. Looking back, I clearly saw His guiding hand, His presence and His leading in every circumstance, whether joyful or difficult.

I was browsing through last summer’s entries when the one for August 4 leaped off the page: “Thank You for the rain, but it wasn’t as much as we needed.” Whoa! That wasn’t a prayer, it was a complaint! I read on and discovered a disturbing number of complaint-prayers. When I replaced my car after 197,000 miles, I griped about what I didn’t get: “Thank You for the car, even though it doesn’t have a trunk light.” In response to a generous gift to the agency where I work, I’d written, “The money will help, but they could have given twice as much.”

Something was wrong with those entries because something was wrong with my relationship with God. During the difficult times, it was easy to recognize God’s blessings and give praise. But as my life became more stable, I’d begun taking His loving care for granted.

My recent entries are more honest. Yes, I still grumble and complain. But day by day, God is helping me develop the thing that was missing in my previous prayers and in my life—a thankful heart.

Lord, let me honor You with the praise that comes from a truly grateful heart.

This devotional is excerpted from Daily Guideposts Journal.

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