How will you start the new year? If last year was especially difficult or disappointing, it might be tempting to say goodbye and good riddance without a backward glance. But before you close the book on last year, consider taking a moment to reflect and be grateful.
Psalm 100 encourages us to enter God’s gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise—not because our circumstances are good, but because He is. There’s no better way to start the new year than to thank God for who He is and all He’s done for us.
Thank God for your home, your car, or the job you love. Tell Him you’re grateful for the air you breathe, your good health, or the family that drives you crazy. Tell Him thank you for giving you guidance and encouragement through His word in the Bible. And thank Him for sending His son Jesus to die a death He didn’t deserve to give you the gift of eternal life that you could never earn.
When we thank God, we’re recognizing His power, His presence, and His provision in our lives. It changes the way we perceive Him, and it changes the way we see our circumstances. Even when things are hard, it’s impossible to sit and wallow in all the negativity when you’re praising God. Giving God thanks forces us to turn from our inward pain and look up at Him. When our eyes are focused on Him, all we can see is His bigness, and it reminds us that none of our problems are too big for our mighty God.
By praising God first, we change how we approach God. Saying thank you for what we have before asking for something else allows us to align our hearts with His. It helps us find a posture of humility and removes our sense of entitlement so that even if we don’t get what we ask for, we are reminded of His character, His promises, and His love for us.
Starting a prayer by thanking God is a form of surrender. It’s a willing confession that it’s not about us, but it’s all about Him. It shifts our focus toward Heaven and deepens our affection for our God.
Take a moment to look at last year through the lens of gratitude. Tell God one thing you’re thankful for today, even if it’s something small. Maybe even commit to doing it weekly or daily. Write your list in a note on your phone, start a gratitude journal, or post it on social media so that you begin to more easily recognize His faithfulness in this new year.