Is your focus inward or upward this season?

Is your focus inward or upward this season?

I can’t believe Thanksgiving is next Thursday! So, just a quick question: Is your focus inward or upward this season?

Because it is nearly turkey day, I thought it may be appropriate to begin listening to Christmas carols. Well, I’ve been shamelessly listening to carols since September, actually. Let’s just all allow our Jesus-freak flags to fly high in the countdown for Christmas. I’m already over the moon excited for the twinkling lights, baked goods, and abundance of down time with family that the Christmas season brings.

Is your focus inward or upward this season?

Is your focus inward or upward this season?
Is your focus inward or upward this season?

But seeing as it is still the month of November, I have been thinking more and more about genuine thankfulness. As I looked over a few of my prayer journal entries (y’all know I love me some prayer journaling… I’ve been on a roll lately), there are unsurprisingly a lot of worries, desires, requests, prayers for loved ones. But embarrassingly, my journals are severely lacking in giving thanks.

One of the tunnels I tend to fall down during prayer, and fall down deeply, is one of inward focus. I wouldn’t necessarily call it selfish or bad. We can come to the Father with all kinds of prayers and requests (Ephesians 6:18):

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

There is nothing wrong with divulging what’s on our hearts to our God. He instructs us specifically to pray in every situation and lay our worries at his feet (Philippians 4:6):

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

So naturally, we will always be making our requests and expressing our fears, worries, desires. There’s bound to be a ton of them if you think and over think as often as I do. But for some reason, I tend to slack on that very middle bit that could easily be overlooked. It probably often is. I’m guilty for sure.

…in every situation, by prayer and petition, with THANKSGIVING, present your requests to God.

Thanksgiving, y’all. Now, let me ask you another question:

What if you woke up tomorrow with only the things you thanked God for today?

The first time I read that question it took my breath away. How miserable I am at being thankful!

2 Corinthians 4:15

It certainly doesn’t help living in a culture that shies away from Truth. After all, who do non-believers feel gratitude and thankfulness toward in a culture that doesn’t recognize the gift giver, Our Lord and savior Jesus Christ? So, where does this lead us as disciples wanting to focus upward rather than inward this season?

Psalm 50:23, “The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!” 

Over and over again in Scripture we see that our thanksgiving glorifies the Father. When we are thankful with genuine hearts, we magnify Jesus’ name. John Piper does an excellent sermon on this which I would encourage you to listen to.

2 Corinthians 4:15, “As grace extends to more and more people it increases thanksgiving, to the glory of God.”

Lastly but certainly not least, how do we cultivate a thankful heart? I encourage you to do a bit of prayerful reflection; Is your focus inward or upward this season? How often are you thanking God with a genuine heart? How often do you stop and truly marvel at the steadfast grace and mercy Jesus has for our wayward lives? What are you thankful for and have you told God lately?

I also encourage you to simply pray for a thankful heart. Sometimes, our hearts are hardened in ways we don’t understand. It can be difficult to be thankful when we are used to living such abundant and opportunistic lives.

Today I am thankful that I have a platform that I can share the Truth with you today, that I am able to freely and openly worship my Lord Jesus, and that his mercies are new every day. I would love to hear from you! What are you thankful for today? What do you do to cultivate thankfulness in your heart and home? 

 

7 thoughts on “Is your focus inward or upward this season?

  1. Dear Rachel

    Yes, it’s incredible how fast time flies!

    The best aspect of the upcoming Christmas season is as you say the abundance of downtime with family.

    The inward focus is bad – it is like going to jail without a ticket out again.

    The power of the Christian Faith is the emphasises on what’s common, what’s binding rather then what’s unique about the individual human being.

    Several studies have documented that humans (Christians and non-believers) have an apparent tendency to worry unless they actively learn how to avoid it.

    Seen in this light, this is a vital blog post because it urges us to do the opposite of worrying, giving thanks.

    Have a good one.

    Gave it a share!

    Edna Davidsen

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Edna, and thank you for sharing it as well! In reference to what you said about the studies that show we can actively avoid worrying, I have found that writing out a list of go-to verses relating to different worries has helped tremendously. It is sort of like what would be called a “war binder”. Be blessed!

      Rachel xo

      1. You’re welcome; it’s also worth noting about your blog post that these ideas that come from the Christian passion are the foundation for much of what we do in society (although few non-believers will admit it).

        Karl Popper, the European Philosopher, once said something like people in the Western world should be optimistic.

        Ever since I read that first time, I thought it was one of the most beautiful sentences I’ve seen in any book.

        I came to think about it because of your topic in this blog post.

        Once again, thanks, have a great weekend 🙂

  2. Thanks Rachel for this post. Encouraging us to be thankful is timely and necessary! I am also guilty of not expressing thankfulness often. After reading this post, I’m motivated to intentionally seek out ways to add this type of expression to my prayer life more consistently! Asking the question about waking up with only the things I said thank you for the day before was Eye-opening and convicting. I am thankful for my family, health, job, and my home. I’m also thankful for the Cross, eternal life, and another day to point others to Christ😊

    1. Thank you, Christy! I’m so happy it has encouraged you! 🙂 The first time I read the question about waking up with only what we thanked God for was convicting for me too, especially when I went through my prayer journal and realized how often I focus on myself rather than the Cross. I too am thankful for all you mentioned and have been trying to cultivate a more thankful heart! Be blessed!

      Rachel xo

  3. I have been more intentional lately about focusing upward. But it has to be intentional or it becomes too easy to slip back into egocentric, me-focused. This post was a great reinforcement for why I’m wanting to make these intentions. Thank you!

    1. Yep, completely agree! It is a bit harder than I would have thought to be thankful for circumstances I would prefer to be different, even if they are perfect as they are because God made it so. It is a bit embarrassing that when I went to pray before I could rattle off problems and requests before coming in reverence and thanksgiving for the many blessings I already have! Thank you so much 🙂

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