What does it mean to have a grateful heart? We might say something like: “Be sure you always remember to start off your time of prayer saying thank you to God for the good things that He’s already done, before you jump into asking Him to do more stuff for you.” Does this pretty much sum it up for us?

Is there often a gap (or perhaps a grand canyon!) between saying a quick “thank you” to God during our “formal times of prayer” and truly living with a heart of gratitude?

What does it mean to have a heart of gratitude? And, are we able to maintain it during the good times, and the bad times? Which is easier, when things are going well, or when we are in the midst of enduring multiple difficulties, when we are disappointed with God (or, perhaps angry with God); and when God seems silent and doesn’t seem to be answering our prayers?

For most of us, our knee-jerk answer would be to say: “Of course, it’s much easier to be thankful to God when I am happy, and life is flowing along smoothly and is full of good things.”

But is it?

When something bad happens to us or to someone we love, is it easy to ask: “God, why did You allow this to happen to me?” “I, (or my friend, or my spouse, or my child) didn’t deserve this!

After all, we love God, tithe our money, serve in the church, give to the poor, and read our Bibles every day. We’ve kept our side of the bargain, God needs to keep His side of the bargain and keep us safe and healthy and keep our lives running smoothly.

So, when we are safe and healthy and things are running smoothly, we don’t think to say thank you, because that is just what we expect. We think we deserve a life like that.

I would like to humbly suggest that, even though many of us perhaps are unaware of it, this line of thinking is very common.

But, when we think this way, it’s very difficult to truly be grateful to God for His mercy and grace during the good times in our lives.

However, when we can truly see (with the eyes of our hearts) the depth of God’s love, and that all we have is because of God’s grace, NOT because we deserve it, then we will be filled with authentic gratitude. And, authentic gratitude will change our hearts.