Lesson 36: In Everything Give Thanks

Aaronic Priesthood Manual 2, (1993), 136–39


Each young man will understand the importance of feeling and expressing gratitude.


Materials needed: scriptures for each young man.


The spirit of gratitude permeates a life close to God. The young men in your charge need to feel the importance of always giving thanks, in word and in deed, to their Heavenly Father and to those with whom they associate. They need to know that feeling and expressing gratitude are a commandment and a sign of a noble soul.

Look for opportunities to express your appreciation regularly to each young man and acknowledge his attempts to develop this trait.

Suggested Lesson Development


Chalkboard and discussion

Write Gratitude is _________________________ on the chalkboard. Ask the young men to give their best definition, one at a time. Write key words from their responses on the chalkboard.

  • When do we feel grateful? (When we realize what others have done for us.)

  • Why should we feel grateful?

  • Why is it important to express our gratitude?


Elder Howard W. Hunter said, “Happiness and joy from blessings are never complete until there is a deep feeling of gratitude within oneself which moves an expression of appreciation” (in Conference Report, Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden Area Conference 1974, p. 27).

We Should Express Gratitude to Others

Adviser presentation

Explain that during the lesson the young men should look for answers to the question How can one give thanks? Write this question on the chalkboard.

Story and discussion

Read or relate the following story quoted by Elder Henry D. Taylor:

“The District of Columbia police auctioned off about 100 unclaimed bicycles Friday. ‘One dollar,’ said an eleven-year-old boy as the bidding opened on the first bike. The bidding, however, went much higher. ‘One dollar,’ the boy repeated hopefully each time another bike came up.

“The auctioneer, who had been auctioning stolen or lost bikes for 43 years, noticed that the boy’s hopes seemed to soar highest whenever a racer was put up.

“There was one racer left. Then the bidding mounted to $8.00. ‘Sold to that boy over there for $9.00,’ said the auctioneer. He took $8.00 from his own pocket and asked the boy for his dollar. The youngster turned it over—in pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters—took his bike and started to leave. But he went only a few feet. Carefully parking his new possession, he went back, gratefully threw his arms around the auctioneer’s neck and cried” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1959, p. 56).

  • What effect did giving thanks have on both the boy and the auctioneer? (It brought them joy. They each felt what the other felt—it brought them closer together.)

  • How do you suppose the auctioneer would have felt if the boy had not gone back? (Probably disappointed and saddened.)

  • What are some reasons why some people express gratitude but others do not? (Some people may be proud, thinking the world owes it to them; some are selfish, thoughtless, or forgetful; sometimes people take others for granted.)


Relate the following true story:

An older couple was leaving for the mission field. At the sacrament meeting before they left, the bishop asked them to speak. As they expressed their appreciation for their now grown children, the mother talked about when the youngest was still at home. She said that one of the things that meant a lot to her was that after every meal, whether breakfast, lunch, or dinner, this boy always said, “Thanks, Mom. Thanks for the nice meal.”

  • What had the habit of saying “Thanks, Mom” done for this mother?

  • How do you think saying “Thanks, Mom” after every meal helped the boy?

  • What are some things that other people do for us regularly that we should remember to thank them for?

Story and discussion

Read aloud the following true story:

“We were attending back-to-school night to meet our children’s teachers for the new year. Several teachers had taught our children during the past few years, so we were somewhat acquainted with them. One teacher approached us and, after shaking hands, said: ‘I want to tell you how much I appreciate your son and how he helped me make an important decision. You see, two years ago was my first year of teaching in the public schools. Your son was in my class, and I was struggling—it had been a difficult year. After several months I made up my mind that teaching was just too difficult—I would leave teaching after the end of the year. On the last day of school, I received a nice gift from your son and also a special letter. In it he expressed his appreciation for me and said that I was one of the best teachers he had ever had. I want you to know how much that letter meant to me. I decided to stay.’”

  • Why did this boy send a gift and a letter? (He felt grateful to this teacher and probably knew that if he were in the teacher’s position, he would appreciate a gift and a letter.)

  • How did this one expression of gratitude change someone’s life? (The teacher decided to stay in teaching.)

Thought question

  • Is there a teacher, leader, neighbor, family member, or friend you could help by expressing your thanks?


Explain that in fast and testimony meeting we hear many expressions of appreciation along with the testimonies.

  • What are some of the things you hear people say they are grateful for?

  • What are you thankful for?

Help the young men see that when a person feels gratitude, it is natural and right to express his feelings. He would be ungrateful if he didn’t express his gratitude.

Chalkboard and discussion

  • What are some other ways we can give thanks?

Summarize on the chalkboard. The young men’s responses might include giving a hug, showing emotion, telling a person in their family how thankful they are for them, saying thank you to anyone who gives help, writing a letter of appreciation, giving a gift, expressing thanks in testimony meeting, doing something kind for anyone who has helped them, making a telephone call, giving a quick and ready smile.

We Should Express Gratitude to the Lord

Story and discussion

The following story comes from a magazine article on mountain climbing:

In belaying, the climber at the top holding the rope does all he can to secure the man being lowered by the rope—he knows that the climber below is totally dependent on him in case the equipment fails. On one particular descent, the equipment holding the climber failed. His partner above was doing all he could to secure the rope and stop the descent. Finally, with just a few feet to go before the falling man hit the ground upside down, the partner on top stopped the fall that would have certainly killed the climber. The climber who was saved explained: “How do you respond to a guy like that? Give him a used climbing rope for a Christmas present? No, you remember him. You always remember him” (Eric G. Anderson, “The Vertical Wilderness,” Private Practice, Nov. 1979, p. 21; as quoted in The Growing Edge [publication of the Church Educational System], Feb. 1982, p. 1).

  • What do you suppose the climber thinks about as he remembers his friend who saved him? (How he felt when the rope held; how difficult it must have been to hold on to the rope; the joy they shared when they got together.)

  • How would always remembering someone be a sign of gratitude?

  • Each week, whom do we covenant to always remember?

Scripture and discussion

Ask the young men to follow along as you read Doctrine and Covenants 20:77, 79 aloud.

  • How many times are the words remember or remembrance used in the sacramental prayers? (Four times.)

  • How can we always remember the Savior? (By regularly thinking about what he means to us. By serving him. By living up to his expectations.)

  • How should we feel each time the sacrament is passed? (We should feel a deep sense of gratitude to the Lord and commitment to obey his commandments.)

Have the young men read and mark Doctrine and Covenants 59:7.

  • Why should we thank the Lord in all things?


President Marion G. Romney of the First Presidency said: “Gratitude is defined as a feeling of thankful appreciation for favors or benefits received. Gratitude is a sign of a noble soul. It has been said that an ungrateful man is like a hog under a tree, eating acorns but never looking up to see where they come from” (in Conference Report, Bogotá Colombia Area Conference 1977, p. 28).

Story and discussion

One of the first full-time missionaries in Spain told the following story:

“I had been assigned a companion who was a native Spaniard. Each morning after we arose, my companion would disappear to some location in our apartment and return after twenty or thirty minutes. As it was our routine to eat together and pray together and study the scriptures together, I asked my companion one day where he went and why. He explained: ‘Since I found the Church and have been privileged to serve as a missionary, my entire life has changed for the better. I’m so happy and so privileged to belong to the Church and now to be a missionary for the Lord. I know that he loves me, and I feel that I would be very ungrateful if I didn’t spend time each day just reviewing my blessings with the Lord and thanking him in prayer for all that he has given me.’”

  • How do you think the Lord felt toward this missionary?

Thought question

  • Have you ever prayed just to express gratitude?

Story and discussion

Relate the following true story:

A group of boys going on a hike were being driven to an overnight campsite. The driver didn’t know the area very well, and by mistake left them several miles from the site. The boys decided to take a shortcut and soon became lost. As time went by and darkness came, they became frightened and confused. One boy suggested that they kneel and pray. They formed a circle, and the boy who suggested they pray was asked to offer the prayer. After they were through, they soon found the right trail, and shortly all were safely in camp. After several minutes of celebration, the boy who had offered the prayer earlier said, “We forgot something.”

  • What do you suppose they had forgotten? (They had forgotten to offer a prayer of thanks for being able to find camp and arrive safely.)

  • Why do we sometimes forget to offer a prayer of thanks after the Lord has responded to our prayer for help?

Scripture and discussion

Ask the young men to follow along as you read Luke 17:11–19.

  • Why do you suppose that nine of the ten lepers did not return to thank the Savior? (They may have been so happy with their own good fortune that they simply forgot about anyone else’s feelings. They may have been too proud or ungrateful, or perhaps they were afraid to go back.)

  • How do you think the Savior felt about the one leper who returned to show gratitude?

  • How can we show thanks to Heavenly Father and the Savior? (By offering prayers of gratitude and thanksgiving, always remembering the Lord and what he has done for us, studying the scriptures, serving others, feeling gratitude each time we partake of the sacrament, writing our feelings in our journals, singing songs and hymns of praise to the Lord in meetings and to ourselves.)

Add the young men’s responses to the chalkboard.


Adviser presentation

You may wish to express appreciation to the young men for their friendship and inspiration. You may wish to bear your testimony about the importance of feeling and expressing gratitude. You might also ask the young men to write a note of gratitude to their parents or some other person of their choosing.