The Substance of Faith

The Substance of Faith

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Quotes on Gratitude and Thanksgiving – 2014

  • Gratitude is always a “could” and never a “should.”  The difference between you should practice gratitude and you could practice gratitude is comparable to the difference between you must eat ice cream and you may eat ice cream.  If you somehow become obligated to eat large quantities of your favorite flavor of ice cream every day, you would soon detest it.  Gratitude freely chosen is an experience, fundamentally different from gratitude simulated to satisfy someone else or to take care of your guilt.    Timothy Miller in How to Want What You Have, p. 166


  • The giving of thanks is not just an activity to be taken up at certain times and set aside for others.  It is a whole way of life.    Fleming Rutledge in The Bible and the New York Times, p. 22


  • And yet, if we wait for every beggar to have his horse, we shall never be grateful for a ride.  If we wait for every person to be fed, we shall never be grateful for our daily bread.  If we wait for every peasant in the world to have a roof , we shall never be grateful for the roof that covers us while we sleep.  If we wait until no one ever dies, we shall never feel grateful for life.    Lewis Smedes in A Pretty Good Person, p. 21
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A Thanksgiving Prayer

Dear God,  Be patient with our ingratitude.  Be patient and forgive our failure to recognize all the things we have that are ours through no effort of our own.    Thank you for being born in a time when plenty is all around us, education is possible, and medicine advanced. Thank you that we have been born in a country with opportunity and into families that invest in our futures.   Thank you for minds that function well and abilities that help us make the most from life. Forgive us for the time we have thought ourselves self-made and remind us of all your gifts.

Forgive us as well for all our tendencies toward self-righteousness, which are not only false, but also rob Jesus of the thanksgiving due him for giving his life to save us from our sins.

Teach us this day that a little more of the things that have not satisfied at all will not satisfy us greatly.

Though is be late, long after a blessing is ours, or little in comparison to what we have received, or shortened by the distractions of the world, accept our thanks for our lives and for your grace.

Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord….

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On Gratitude – Quotes for Thanksgiving


I find that people often come to this site as a result of searching for quotations for certain themes.  With Thanksgiving approaching, here are some quotes about thankfulness and gratitude.

Additionally, see this link to UC-Berkeley’s Greater Good stories on gratitude.  


In daily life, we must see that it not happiness that makes us grateful but gratefulness that makes us happy.   – Unknown

We discovered that the more mature prayers of thanksgiving are not those offered for the obvious blessing but those spoken in gratitude for obstacles overcome, through insights gained, for lessons learned, for increased humility, for help received in time of need, for strength to persevere, for opportunities to serve others.  Some of the most heartfelt prayers in my own life have come to me at moments when God enabled me to be of assistance to someone else or to endure some hardship to his glory.                              — Fleming Rutledge,  The Bible and The New York Times,  p. 23

There are dozens of such moments every day.  Moments when you stand—as it were—at a spiritual crossroads, with two ways lying before you.  Such moments are typically called “moments of decision.”  It does not matter what the frame or content of each particular decision is.  It all devolves, in the end, into just two roads before you, every time.  The one will lead to less gratitude, less kindness, less forgiveness, less honesty, or less love in the world.  The other will lead to more gratitude, more kindness, more forgiveness, more honesty, or more love in the world.  Your mission, each moment, is to seek to choose the later spiritual road, rather than the former, every time.   — Richard Bolles, How to Find Your Mission in Life,  p. 38 ff.

These young people are profoundly unhappy because they have lost a sense of gratitude.  They can speak only of rights.  Health is a right and sickness a frustration of this right. Healing, so quick now thanks to our antibiotics, is no longer a gift from God.  Happiness is a right.  Since no one achieves it, despite all our modern conveniences, everyone is the victim of a frustration complex.  No gift can bring joy to the one who has a right to everything.  — Paul Tournier, The Meaning of Gifts,  p. 32

The universal quest for gifts is nothing other than a seeking after God, by whatever name we may call him.  For only the One who has made all things and who owns all things can give them without asking anything in return except our gratitude.   –Tournier, The Meaning of Gifts,  p. 58

Praise is prayer speech that is endlessly surprised about the character god and endlessly grateful for life in the world that God makes possible.  Praise, beyond the specifics of thanksgiving, is not a concrete response to blessing but is a more elemental awareness that the overriding reality in our life—the reality of God—is a reality beyond our expectation, merit, or imagination.  Praise is a glad statement of “disbelief,” an acknowledgment that there is more to the reality of Yahweh than we dared to hope and more than we could have imagined.  —  Walter Brueggemann, The Psalms & The Life of Faith,  p. 50 ff.





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