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This year, leading up to the Thanksgiving and Christmas season, I wanted to adopt a meal-time or car-time daily devotional to reflect on all the things our family can be grateful for.
Honestly, I wanted to write out these 25 days of gratitude and thankfulness almost more for myself than for my children.
All kids struggle with being grateful and expressing appreciation. That’s to be expected. You don’t have to teach a kid selfishness, entitlement and thanklessness. They are born that way and it is our job as parents to teach them and model the opposite… generosity, humility and gratitude.
But the truth is that I, too, struggle with those same things on a daily (hourly??) basis. When you are in the thick of parenting, drowning in laundry, helping with homework, cooking and cleaning nonstop, taxiing kids around the town and dealing with sibling squabbles it is easy (really, really easy) to get bogged down in the negative and forget just how fortunate we are.
Sure, I wanted to talk about these things with my kids in hopes that they might adopt an improved spirit of gratefulness and joy but I needed the reminder just as much as they did.
Related Post: Mama Bear with a Jesus Flare
So, here it is! 25 days of thanksgiving each with an example discussion, a Bible verse to meditate on and an example prayer.
Use these 25 days as a starting point to open up conversation at the dinner table or in the car-line or wherever you have an extra 10 minutes to spare. And, don’t be fooled, this doesn’t have to be done around Thanksgiving but can be talked about and reflected upon all year round!
The Bible tells us in Philippians 4:8 (NIV) to talk and think about the good and wonderful things in our lives constantly.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.
If you are already discouraged envisioning perfect, polished families of five gathered around a wooden farm table with hands folded and hair nicely quaffed hair just go ahead and wipe that visual from your brain.
This is real life, people, and we are all ridiculously busy and, quite frankly, one big hot mess.
This may look like a single mom praying over her kids in the drive thru at McDonald’s on the way to her son’s soccer game or a grandma whispering encouraging words into her grand-kids’ ears while tucking them in at night because their Dad works the late shift.
There is no right way or place to do this. Just fit it into your already existing routine.
And you don’t have to follow the dialogue exactly. Add in words and phrases that are specific to you and your family. Spice it up! Be silly! Let your kids be silly, too.
They are not going to give you sound, theologically rich answers, people. They may burp in the middle of the prayer and poke their brother in the armpit while you’re discussing how we need to be thankful for our siblings. You know what… IT’S OKAY!! And getting frustrated or yelling at them totally defeats the purpose.
So, take a deep breath, and let’s get started.
Day 1: The Sun
Today’s thing to be thankful for is the Sun. Why is the sun important? What are some of the things that the sun does? How would the earth be different if there was no sun? Tell me some of your favorite things to do on a sunny day.
Genesis 1:3-4, NIV
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good and he separated the light from the darkness.
Dear God, thank you so much for the Sun that you put in the sky to give us light to see better, keep us warm, heat up our swimming pool and provide food for all the plants. Thank you, also, for all your beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Help us remember to say “thank you” when we see them or when we are having fun at the beach on a warm, sunny day. Amen.
Day 2: Moon and Stars
Today’s things to be thankful for are the Moon and the Stars. What is your favorite thing about the moon? Did you know that the moon pulls on the earth and that is what makes the tide and the waves go in and out at the beach? What is your favorite thing about the stars? Do you know that some stars create pictures in the sky called constellations? What would the night sky be like without the moon and stars?
Psalm 136:9, NIV
(God made) The moon and stars to govern the night; His love endures forever.
Dear God, thank you so much for the moon and the stars that light up the night sky. Thank you for making them so beautiful. Thank you for creating such an amazing world for us to gaze upon even when it is dark outside. Help us to remember to say “thank you” each time we see the twinkling stars in the sky and the glowing moon overhead. Amen
Day 3: Animals (and/or pets if you have them)
Today’s thing to be thankful for are animals. Who likes to go to the zoo and see the animals? What is your favorite animal at the zoo? Why do you think God made the animals? If you could have any animal living in your backyard, what would it be?
Genesis 25, NIV
God made the living animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
Dear God, thank you for every animal on this earth. There are millions… maybe even billions… of them and each one is so special and different. You are such a smart and creative God to think up so many fascinating critters. Help us to be kind to animals and help us remember to say “thank you” every time we snuggle up with our pet or see one of your amazing creatures outside or at the zoo. Amen.
Day 4: Food
Today’s thing to be thankful for is food. What is your favorite food? Can you imagine what would your day be like if you didn’t have any snacks, breakfast, lunch or dinner? How does food help (or hurt) our bodies? Give me some examples of foods that grow on trees or in the ground.
Psalm 107: 9, NIV
For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.
Thank you, God, for the food that we eat so that we will not get hungry. Thank you for giving us food so we will grow strong and have energy to play and work hard in school. Help us to remember to say “thank you” before we eat a meal and when someone makes food for us. Give us opportunities to share what we have with people who might not have as much to eat. Amen.
Day 5: Water
Today’s thing to be thankful for is water. Where do we see water? Why is water important? How does rain water help the plants and animals? What are some fun things we do in water? (Bathe, swim, water ski) How does water help our bodies? Did you know that more than half (about 60%) of our bodies are made out of water and that we could only stay alive for a few days without water? It’s that important!
Isaiah 44:3, NIV
For I will pour out water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessings on your descendants.
Lord, thank you so much for lakes, rivers and the oceans that all the water animals can live in. Thank you for the rain water that provides drinks for the plants and animals and helps them grow. Thank you for the water that we drink when we are hot and thirsty. And thank you for water that we can swim in, puddles that we can jump in and baths that we can get squeaky clean in. Amen.
Day 6: Rest and Sleep
Today we have two things to be thankful for. Rest and sleep. What does it mean to rest? Are rest and sleep the same thing? Why or why not? Why do you think we need rest? How do you think you would feel if you never got to rest or sleep? How do you think you would act? Did you know that the Bible tells us we are to have one day of the week set aside for rest? Even God rested after he created the earth and even Jesus needed time away from his disciples and the crowds that followed him so he could rest and pray.
Genesis 2:2-3, NIV
By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so, on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.
Dear God, thank you so much for allowing us time so we can rest. Help us to say “no” to things that aren’t really that important so we have time to rest. Thank you for giving us time to sleep everyday so our brains and our bodies can heal, grow and recharge for the next day. Help us remember to say “thank you” when we have a good night’s sleep or a nice, lazy day to rest and relax. Amen.
Day 7: Parents
Fill in the blank… I really love it when Mommy_____________. I really love it when Daddy ________________________. What do you think your day might be like without parents? Who would make your meals? Drive you to school? Tuck you in at night? (If you are talking to your kids say…) God has made us your parents and put us in charge of taking care of you. Why do you think it is so important for kids to listen and obey their parents? The bible promises us that, if they do, their lives will be more peaceful and they will enjoy life on the earth.
Ephesians 6:3, NIV
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your Father and Mother”- which is the first commandment with a promise – “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”
Dear Lord, thank you so much for giving us Moms and Dads who love us, feed us, keep us safe and take care of us. Help us to say thank you to our moms and dads during the day when we see how hard they work to keep our family going. Help us to obey our Moms and Dads so that “it may go well” with us and so that we can “enjoy long life on the earth” just like you promise in the Bible. Amen.
Day 8: Grandparents
What is so special about being with your grandparents? What is your favorite thing to do when you go to grandma and grandpa’s house? Do you know how special you are to your grandma and grandpa? The Bible tells us you are like a shiny, dazzling crown that your grandparents can wear on their heads and show off to everyone they see at church… in the grocery store… everywhere! Let’s write a little note to grandma and grandpa today and tell them how special they are to us, too.
Proverbs 17:6, NIV
Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.
Jesus, thank you so very much for grandparents. They are always so helpful and it is always such a special treat to spend time with them at their house. Help us to remember to give them lots of hugs and kisses and to always say thank you to them for all the awesome things they do to love us and take care of us (of course, feel free to give specific examples).
Day 9: Brothers and Sisters
Man, brothers and sisters are the best. It is like having friends that live in your house all the time! What is your favorite thing to do with your sibling(s). What do you like about having brothers and/or sisters? Is it hard to get along with them sometimes? Why? How? Did you know the Bible tells us over and over again to get along with others, be encouraging, use kind words and make peace with those around us? Yes, that means even with the people in your own house!
Philippians 2:3-4, NIV
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.
Dear Lord, thank you, thank you for brothers and sisters. Thank you for the silly games they play and the sweet ways in which they help and encourage each other. Help us always to remember that having good and peaceful relationships with other people, even the people in our own family, is something that is so important to you and something that brings you great joy. When we feel angry with our brother or sister help us to stay calm so we can talk about it and work together to find a better solution. Amen.
Day 10: Friends
I love friends! Don’t you? Who was your very first friend? What friends do you enjoy spending time with the most? What games do you like to play with your friends? Can you remember a time when you were feeling sad and a friend helped you? God loves to see us having fun with our friends and being kind to those people who might not have any good friends.
Proverbs 17:17, NIV
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.
Dear Jesus, thank you for friends who have fun with us, laugh with us, cheer us up when we are sad, encourage us and help us get through difficult times in our lives. I pray we can always remember to tell friends how special they are to us and how much we love and appreciate them. Help us to be a good friend to others especially those who may be hurting or lonely. Amen.
Day 11: Teachers
Man, where would we be without teachers? Teachers are some of the hardest working people I know! Think of all they have to do: make lessons, keep kids from misbehaving, help kids learn math and science and writing and all that other school stuff. And, when the day is over, they still have papers and assignments to take home and grade! Can you think of any other things they have to do during the school day? Did you know the Bible says we need to work hard in everything that we do as if we were doing it for God? That includes our school work, too! What are two things you can say to your teacher tomorrow to show them how grateful you are that they are your teacher?
Luke 6:40, NIV
The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like the teacher.
Dear Lord, thank you for teachers and all of their hard work. Thank you for (say the name of your kids’ teachers). Thank you that they care about our children learning so much that they are willing to spend several hours each day with them to help them grow and gain more knowledge. Please give our teachers lots and lots of energy to get through their school day. Help us to remember to be helpful to our teachers and say thank you to our teachers everyday for all the time they spend teaching us and taking care of us. Amen.
Day 12: Police Men and Firemen
Who has ever been inside a police car or fire truck? Did you get to see the lights or hear the siren? Do any of your friends have parents who are policemen/women or firemen/women? How do policemen and firemen protect us and keep us safe? God gave them a very difficult but very important job to take care of their community. Just like God in heaven protects us and give us special commands to follow, policemen and firemen also protect us on earth. They, too, have specific laws that we must follow to stay safe and away from things that can hurt us.
Bible Verse: 2 Thessalonians 3:3, NIV
But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.
Dear Jesus, thank you for policemen and firemen and all the ways they keep us safe and protect us from things that may be dangerous or harmful. I pray that you would protect them, too, and keep them safe as they work so hard to protect us. Help us to remember to say thank you for a job well done to these men and women when we see them at our schools or out in the community. Amen.
Day 13: Our Country
We live in an extremely amazing country! A free country! That means that there are a lot of things we can do in America that people in other countries cannot do! We can say what we want, choose what jobs we want to have, go to school and college, wear what we want, go to church when we want and even vote for the people we want to lead the country! We live in an awesome place, a place that many men and women have had to fight for in battles and wars. They had to sacrifice so much so that we could live in these beautiful and wonderful United States. Since we are so free, however, God has also given us a ton of responsibility to make good choices and use our freedom to help and serve others.
1 Peter 2:16, ESV
Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover up for evil, but living as servants of God.
Dear Lord, thank you for our country and help us to always remember those brave men and women who fought to make it a free place. I pray we will always be respectful of the American Flag. Give us opportunities to say thank you to all the men and women who have served in the military and lead this country. Help us to be responsible with our freedoms and help us to make good choices that would please you and bring you glory. Amen.
Day 14: Clothes
Whew! Thank goodness for clothes! Can you imagine not having any clothes to wear? That would be crazy! How do clothes protect us? What about shoes? How do they protect us? I don’t like to be cold so I am very grateful for my jacket and warm, fuzzy robe in the winter time. And I am so glad there are so many types of clothes. Tank tops to keep us cool in the summer and tennis shoes that help us run faster.
Matthew 25:36, NIV
I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.
Dear Lord, thank you so very much for the clothes that we have to wear. I am so grateful that they protect us and our bodies from harsh weather that may harm us. Help us to remember that there are so many people on earth that do not have enough clothes to wear or the right clothes to wear and help us to be generous with our money and even our own clothes so that we might meet someone else’s need. Amen.
Day 15: Our House
Man, oh, man. I am very grateful for our house! Can you imagine if we did not have a house to sleep in at night or a house to run into when the weather was bad? What is your favorite thing about our house? What is your favorite room and why? Also, I love our house because we can have people over for dinner and parties! God wants us to have relationships with our friends, family and neighbors and He loves it when we welcome people into our home.
1 Peter 4: 8-9
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.
Lord, thank you so much for our house and the protection and safety it provides us. Thank you for my cozy room and comfy couch to sit and watch movies together as a family. Help us to take care of our home and help us to invite people into our home that may need a friend or a good meal. Help us remember to use our home to be a blessing to other people who might need a place to stay or a good friend to talk to.
Day 16: Our Car
Kiddos, can you imagine having to walk to school every day? We would have to get up super early just to start walking! And what about going on vacations? We would have to take a horse or ride a bike. That would be difficult especially since we travel with so much stuff! Having a car is a modern-day luxury that people 150 years ago didn’t have! They make our lives so much easier and allow us to do and see so much more of God’s awesome creation! I am really grateful for our car, aren’t you?
Psalm 118:29, NIV
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.
** Surprisingly not a whole lotta Bible verses about cars. Lol. But it is always a good idea just to say thank you to God!**
Dear God, thank you so much for our car! Thank you for creating the person who invented the car so that our lives are so, so much easier and more enjoyable. Please protect us while we drive and be generous to others whose car might be broken down or need a ride somewhere. Amen.
Day 17: Our Appliances
Today’s thing to be thankful for is appliances. What are appliances? Our refrigerator, washing machine, dryer, dishwasher, microwave, toaster oven, vacuum cleaner and coffee maker (all the hallelujahs!!) and things like that are appliances. Basically, they are things in our house that make our lives easier. A long time ago people didn’t have these things and they had to spend so much more time cooking, cleaning, and taking care of their home. Today, we have all these awesome inventions to make things go faster and make our lives more convenient. Let’s not take that for granted!
1 Thessalonians 5:16-28, NIV
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
** Not a whole lotta Bible verses about appliances, either. Lol. But it is always a good idea just to say thank you to God!**
Dear Jesus, thank you so much for the appliances we have that make our life easier. Thank you for creating our brains to think up new machines and gadgets that help us during the day. Help us not take these things, that sometimes seem unimportant, for granted. Amen.
Day 18: Holidays
Today’s thing to be thankful for is Holidays! I love Holidays! What is your favorite holiday to celebrate? I actually really love Halloween. Holidays are such a fun and much needed break from our daily routine and are usually centered around spending time with the people who are so important to us… our friends and family! God wants us to have fun, enjoy and celebrate life! And I am grateful he gave us Holidays so we can do just that!
Psalm 118:24, NIV
This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!
Dear Lord, thank you so much for Holidays and other celebrations like birthdays. Thank you for giving us special occasions to have fun, spend time with friends and family and just enjoy the life you gave us. Many times, during Holidays, we get presents. Help us not to want more and more things. Instead, help us to enjoy time with the people we love and be content with what we have. Amen.
Day 19: Our Bodies
Our bodies are truly amazing. I mean, think about all the things that work together to keep us going. Our heart pumps all of our blood around, our lungs let us breath, our brains help us think and move and our muscles make us run fast and walk around. Did you know there are over 200 bones (206) and around 650 muscles in the human body!! That’s insane. Did you know that God designed your body before you were even growing in your mommy’s tummy? It’s true. He knew everything about you even before you were born.
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Lord, thank for creating me and giving me this awesome body that can think and talk and walk and run and swim and just do so many amazing things. Thank you for the air that fills my lungs, the smells that fill my nose, the sights my eyes get to see and the sounds that fill my ears. I am in awe of your creation and I pray that I remember to thank you always for loving me so much that you created me and my body. Amen.
Day 20: Our Toys
Today’s things to be thankful for are our toys! We have so many fun toys! What is your favorite one? My favorites are the ones we can take outside like a scooter or water balloons. Do you ever find yourself wishing you had a toy that another friend had? Or just wanting more and more toys? That’s easy to do but the Bible urges us to be content with what we have and not fall into the trap of wanting more and more and more. There are so many children in this world who have little to no toys. Isn’t that so sad? Can you think of 1 or 2 ways that we can be generous with out toys and give to or share with others?
Proverbs 11:24-25, NIV
One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.
Dear Lord, thank you for our toys that we can play with and have fun with. Help us to remember that there are so many children in this world who have no toys. I pray that we can always look for ways to be generous with the toys and things we have and share with or donate to others in need. Help us to remember to say thank you each time we are gifted a new toy or when we are having a great time playing with our toys. Amen.
Day 21: Vacations
I love taking vacations with my friends and family! Where is your favorite place to go? What was the best vacation you ever took? Similar to holidays, vacations are special times and trips that God has carved out in our busy schedules to take a break and get some rest. Remember, though, sometimes planning a vacation can be a little stressful and expensive. Have you ever thought about that? What has to happen for our family to go on vacation? We need to always remember to say thank you to the people who help to plan and pay for our vacations.
Ecclesiastes 3:13, NIV
That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil – this is the gift of God.
Lord, thank you for vacations. Thank you for a break from all of our hard work so that we can rest, relax and spend time with our friends and our family. Thank you for the new things we get to see and do while we are away from our home and school. Help us not to take these special trips for granted and help us remember to say thank you to our parents or grandparents or friends or whoever it is that has taken us on these awesome adventures. Amen.
Day 22: Prayer
Our thing to be thankful for today is prayer! Did you know when we pray we are actually talking to God. He loves it when we talk to him! And he wants us to talk to him all the time. Seriously… ALL THE TIME. That is what the bible says! He wants to know when we are happy, sad, worried, nervous, upset, excited and grateful. He wants to know about everything in our lives, the big stuff and the small stuff. And, the best part is we can talk to him whenever we want. Prayer is not only something you do in church. You can pray anytime, anywhere.
Colossians 4:2, NIV
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
Dear Lord, thank you so very much for prayer. Thank you for letting us come and talk to you whenever we need to or want to. Help us to remember to come to you with everything no matter how big or how small. Amen.
Day 23: Our Church
Today we are going to talk about church! I love going to church and my whole week feels off when I don’t. It renews my energy and just fills me with peace. It’s like hitting the reset button after a busy, hectic week. There are so many things to be thankful for at church but my favorite things are the friends I have made there. We are like a little family. We help each other, encourage one another, do fun things together as a group, pray for each other and make each other laugh. What is your favorite part about church? (I am totally prepared for my kids to say, “The donuts the give out in the Atrium!” LOL) God wants us to go to church regularly and be a part of a church congregation.
1 Thessalonians 5:11, NIV
Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
Lord, thank you for our church and the friends we have made there. Thank you for giving us a place to go and worship you and spend time with other people who love you. Give us courage to invite people to church who might not know you but who really, really need you. In the Bible you tell us that the church should be like the “body of Jesus Christ.” Help us be more like Jesus so we can love and serve others well every day. Amen.
Day 24: Jesus
I am so thankful for Jesus. Do you know who that is? Do you know what he did? He is God’s son and God sent him to earth to teach us what it is like to love God and live the way God wants us to live. Jesus was and is a walking, talking example of what God is like. He also loves us so much that he gave up his life so our sins would be taken away. A sin is anything we do or say that disobeys or disrespects what God has said in the Bible. Sin is not allowed in heaven because heaven is perfect, but because God sent Jesus to pay for our sins, we are forgiven and we can live in heaven with him forever.
John 3:16, NIV
Because God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Lord, thank you so much for sending Jesus to die for us so that our sins are forgiven and forgotten forever. Thank you. I am really excited about one day getting to live forever with you in heaven. Amen.
Day 25: The Bible
Today is the last day! Today’s thing to be grateful for is the Bible! The Bible is a really big and sometimes really confusing book, even for adults. But, what’s inside the Bible is just amazing. Sometimes people call the Bible “God’s word.” That means that everything in it was inspired by God. It is a love letter written to us by God and tells us how much God loves us and how worthy we are to him. The Bible also has a ton of advice and instructions on how we can live an awesome and peaceful life if we trust and obey God. I read it when I am trying to figure out how to be a better parent to you crazy kids. God wants us to read the Bible all the time and even memorize what it says.
2 Timothy 3:16-17, NIV
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Dear Lord, thank you so much for your word, the Bible. I am so grateful that I have your instructions written down on how to love other people well and how to be a good friend. Help me find time in my day to read your word and memorize it. I want to use the Bible to encourage others and give them hope. Help me to think of and remember verses I have read in the Bible throughout my day so I can continue to grow in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. Amen.
Related Post: THE CUPS: Sharing the Story of God’s Love
Of course, feel free to make this list more personal to you and your family! It is not all inclusive and can be added to or subtracted from as you see fit.
There are umpteen more things to be thankful for. You could probably fill up an entire calendar, really. Maybe you’d want to add aunts, uncles and cousins to the list! Or maybe your favorite sports team, sports in general or babysitters (God bless them!) Personally, I feel there could be an entire day dedicated to being thankful for ice cream and chocolate.
Whatever you decide, I hope and pray you enjoy this and that it can be a starting point for you and your family to incorporate an attitude of gratitude and a spirit of thankfulness in your daily lives and at home.
Have you enjoyed reading this post from The Flower Donkey Diaries as much as I have LOVED writing it? If so, I would ADD IT TO MY LIST OF THINGS TO BE THANKFUL FOR if you would click on the following links to follow me on Pinterest, Instagram and/or Facebook. Thank you so very much and, as always, happy reading!