Anchors and Alphabets

“In our confrontations with obstacles or opponents today, we would do well not to focus on the troubles lined up against us,” writes Jim Cymbala in You Were Made For More. “Instead, we need to celebrate the God who has already demonstrated his power and provision in our past. We don’t need to be fretful or anxious. We need to anchor our hearts and minds in God’s overwhelming track record.”

Expressing gratitude — the intentional expression of thanks — is that anchor. Ruth Graham expresses a similar sentiment in Fear Not Tomorrow, God Is Already There: “[O]ne thing that makes it easier for me to trust God is cultivating a habit of remembering what He has already done. I tap into that track record. Remembering is a God-given prescription.”

Have you filled that prescription? Do you actively and regularly choose to remember in gratitude what God has done and is doing in your life?

Years back, on the spur of the moment one bedtime, I came up with a thanksgiving prayer experience to share with my young children. Ironically, though it’s meant for kids, this alphabet prayer habit has woven it’s way into my own spiritual life in order to anchor my soul — as a means of taking that God-given prescription of grateful remembrance.

I describe this practice in my book for parents Faith-Filled Moments. Here’s an excerpt for you to check out . . . and try with your kids (or without!).

A to Z Thanks

Whether your child is just beginning to master her A, B, C’s or is an expert reader, this game presents both a fun challenge and a meaningful time of praise! The game is simple: Take turns thanking God for various things based on letters of the alphabet. There are two basic ways to play it:

1) Sit with your child take turns going through the alphabet. For example, you’d go first with the letter A and you might say something like “God, thank you for apples.” Your child goes next and she might say, “God, thank you for my snuggly bed.” Repeat this pattern all the way to Z…and be ready to come up with some silly thanksgivings for letters like J, Q, Y, and Z!

2) Take turns randomly naming letters for each other. For example, you might say “N” to your child. Your child thinks of something she is thankful for, then responds, “God, thank you for my nightlight.” Your child then challenges you with the letter “J” and you respond by saying, “Thank you God for jokes—it’s fun to laugh together!”

Connection: Even if it feels like just a silly game, you and your child are actually practicing the spiritual discipline of celebration together! Your time of thanking God is music to his ears—and repeating this game is a great way to form a habit of giving thanks in your child’s heart.

After you play, talk a bit more with your child about deeper things you’re thankful for, like your relationship with Jesus, your marriage to your spouse, or the privilege of being a parent. Invite your child to also share some meaningful things she is thankful for. If you’d like, read Psalm 30:12b and talk about how we can give thanks to God forever—throughout our lifetime here on earth and when we live with God in heaven.

Exploration: You may want to ask your child questions like…

  • What letter was the hardest? Which was the easiest?
  • What other things are you most thankful for?
  • Why do you think it’s important to say thanks to God?

Bonus Idea: A fun variation of this game is to use Scrabble tiles. Place the tiles face down and take turns drawing a tile and saying thanks based on the letter you drew.

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