Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Deuteronomy 4:9
My wife Rita created a good tradition early on with our four daughters. At Christmas or birthdays, after one of the girls opened a present they were instructed to walk over and thank the gift giver. Rita knew a child's (even an adult's) tendency is to jump into enjoying the gift without expressing gratitude to the giver. This simple strategy of being thankful first, puts pressure on us as parents to model the same. Recently, a three year old expressed his gratitude to us with a red sheet of construction paper scribbled with a purple crayon. A child's simple heartfelt thank you!
Moses gave Israel a very clear command to be intentional in their instruction of their children and grandchildren. He reminds them to remember what the Lord had done. Stories of His faithfulness were not to fade from their hearts. These people of God had suffered under slavery, but were delivered by the Almighty's miraculous deeds. Nothing they or their children faced could extinguish their experiencing the Lord's salvation. Emotionally recounting God stories gives mental word pictures that remain. Lessons in gratitude teache gratefulness.
"The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them" (Acts 15:12).
Thus, accounts of our answered prayers prepare our children to pray and thank God. A simple idea is to record your family prayers on the left column of a prayer journal and write the answer to those prayers on the right side of the page. Update your prayers weekly with your child and review how the Lord has answered your petitions. Furthermore, gratitude is as much caught as taught. Talk over meals about God's work in the people you encounter at work. Describe how He has been faithful in their lives to overcome obstacles. Be an aggressive appreciator of God.
Furthermore, quietly and consistently thank people for the blessing they are in your life. Perhaps you designate "Thankful Thursdays" to write thank you notes with your children. Have stamps, envelopes, stationary and pens in a zip lock bag so you are prepared to sit down for 20 minutes and write a couple of notes to those who need your encouragement. Keep it brief and make sure to pen a scripture verse that reminds you of the person you are writing. Instruct your grandchild to always thank their mom and dad. Gratitude especially honors those who model thankfulness!
"Solomon showed his love for the Lord by walking according to the instructions given him by his father David" (1 Kings 3:3).
Prayer: Heavenly Father, teach me how to teach my child and grandchild gratitude.
Related Readings: Genesis 50:16; Proverbs 1:8, 4:1; Ephesians 6:4; 1 Thessalonians 1:9
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