I am a huge fan of Fall! This week we have cooler temperatures in Nashville and it actually looks and feels like Fall for the first time! I had a great time driving out of town a bit and seeing all the trees with their colorful leaves. I am so grateful! It reminds me that Halloween and Thanksgiving are not too far away! I know that our Canadian friends have already celebrated Thanksgiving but we can all use some practical ways to practice gratitude and thankfulness, especially with everything going on in our world. I know I do! And as November begins next week, we all get a fresh start, a chance to begin again and draw closer to Jesus. Here are a few ways I am connecting with God and practicing gratitude and gratefulness this season.
WRITING DOWN and REMEMBERING THE GIFTS: One of my daily practices is to write down the GIFTS of the DAY each morning. I take time to remember the gifts of the day before. I have a small journal where I make a list of the things I am grateful for…from the cold weather to a new job possibility, to a new friend or a good cup of coffee. No gift is too small to write down. I find that taking the time to pause and look back over the day before helps me start the new day with a much brighter point of view. This is like a mini PRAYER OF EXAMEN.
PRAYING THE PRAYER OF EXAMEN: Another practice is the praying the longer version of the PRAYER OF EXAMEN. TRY the extended PRAYER OF EXAMEN on your own. This one is based on the one led by FATHER MICHAEL SPAROUGH whom I met on a retreat the year before covid.
1. Place yourself in the Presence of God. Open your entire self to to God’s Love.
2. Review your day in Thanksgiving. “Savoring the goodness not just counting my blessings”. What made my heart smile today?
Picture Jesus smiling at you!
“Behold God Beholding You!”
3. Reviewing the Emotions and the Feelings of the day. What did you notice as you woke up? Were you grumpy? Grateful? Already stressed out? What surprised you? What delighted you? Did you lose your temper? Did you have conflict? Did you feel lonely or afraid?
Give these feelings to Jesus!
4. Prayer of Review…LISTEN
Jesus receives the negative of the day without judging you! Jesus receives your emotions, fears, sorrows, despair.
BEHOLD HIM BEHOLDING YOU
5. Turning Towards Tomorrow! Looking forward in HOPE. What has the Spirit taught you?
As you look towards tomorrow what good things from today do you want to take into the new day? Ask Jesus for the GRACE you need for tomorrow.
What do you need Jesus to provide for you so you can “BE CHRIST’S MIRROR to the World” ?
Based on Father Michael Sparough’s Examen: LISTEN HERE
Last year at our Season of Gratitude Retreat, which you can still watch and participate in, we created a Grateful Jar. I created a Gratitude Jar Kit that you can download for free at Freerangeworship.com.
You can do this on your own or with your small group, family or your entire church community. Each person or family will need a jar which can be decorated, or you can use a gift box instead of a jar. Each person/family will need a set of the words/phrases printed out and scissors to cut out the words. The idea is to create a Grateful Jar with words and phrases to help you pray and practice gratitude each day. You put the phrases in the jar and each day you randomly pick one out. I close my eyes and let the Holy Spirit choose for me. Read the selection and consider how you are grateful for this and thank Jesus for this. You are free to print out or send out the PDF to your community, just let them know you got it from freerangeworship.com and Lilly Lewin!
You can also use the drawing of the Grateful Jar as a prayer response during worship with your church community or in your small group. Each person will need a picture/handout of the jar and a pen or pencil. Invite participants to consider all the gifts of this week, all the things you have to be grateful for in your life today…
WRITE these things on your jar. Ask Jesus to show you.
Give people time to actually write down these things. After they have finished writing, have participants hold the paper and pray together. If you use slides, you could do this as a corporate prayer, praying this aloud together. If you are using this with a small group or youth group, you could have people share in pairs what things they are thankful for. The prayer can be something like this:
“Lord we thank you that you fill our lives with Good Things.
Even when things are dark and confusing, you give us things to be grateful for each day.
Thank you for all of these things!
Help us to notice and pay attention today and everyday to the good gifts you give us!
Thank you Lord. And all God’s people said “AMEN”
We’d love to hear how you use the Grateful Jar, so send us your stories and pics! And since it’s Halloween on Monday, save a few piece of candy and you can pray with it as a family, individual or a group! Check out Praying with Chocolate and get the free handout here.
Grateful for all you do each day to love and serve others! Thank you!
Christine Sine and Lilly Lewin inspire ways to get geared up for the coming season of gratitude in this popular online course! Sign up for 180 days to enjoy this retreat at your own pace – including craft tutorials and print-outs plus much more. Check it out in our shop!