Scripture talks a lot about our words. Spend a few minutes reflecting on these passages:
--- Death and life are in the power of the tongue. Proverbs 18:21
--- The Lord God has given Me the tongue of disciples, That I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple. Isaiah 50:4
--- From the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. James 3:10
--- Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29
With these verses in mind, think about your words in relation to others, whether spouse, children, co-workers, neighbors, or strangers:
--- Do your words speak life or death into the other person’s heart?
--- Do you seek to sustain the other person with your words when they are weary?
--- Are you guilty of both “blessing and cursing” other people with what you say?
--- Do you allow unwholesome words to proceed from your mouth?
--- Do you seek to speak truth and wisdom and grace into each moment?
Consider not only what you DO say, but what you DON’T say – because silence can be healing or harmful, just as words themselves can be healing or harmful:
--- Do you know when to give advice and when to give empathy?
--- Do you ever use silence as a weapon out of either anger or hurt?
--- Are you generous or sparing with words of love, appreciation, praise, or encouragement?
Reflect on the “meta message” that you deliver when you speak with other people – that is, the message beneath the message (regardless of the actual words you may be saying). For example, do you communicate to others patience or impatience? Acceptance or judgment? Love or condemnation? Respect or disrespect? Interest or boredom?
Consider using the following as a “starting place” for prayer on how you use words – add to it and expand on it from your heart:
Lord, I don’t think I’ve really realized the power that I hold in my tongue … in the words that I speak, in how I speak them, and in how I withhold them. I literally hold the power of life and death over other people in what I say.
I need to confess that I have sinned with my words [confess areas of sin – some possibilities are listed here]:
--- I have not spoken truth and wisdom and grace into each moment.
--- I have used both my words and my silence as weapons out of my hurt or anger.
--- I have not been generous with words of love, appreciation, praise, or encouragement.
--- I have sometimes “said the right things,” but my attitude has been all wrong – you know it, I know it, and the other person knows it.
--- I haven’t used words as a way to create a safe and secure place for the other person to be known.
--- I have spoken in anger, bitterness, judgment, and pride.
James was right when he wrote “If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man.” I am far from perfect. But you have called me to “be perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Because you have called me to that standard, I know you can empower me to achieve it, Lord!
So, Lord, I pray for a new outpouring of your Spirit – directed right at my tongue! I pray that my words could become a fountain of life to everyone to whom I speak. Sustaining when they are weary. Restoring where they are broken. Strengthening where they are weak. Healing where they are hurt. Edifying where they need wisdom.
Help me specifically to [add prayer requests as you have need – some possibilities are listed here]:
--- Think before I speak, especially if I am hurt, impatient, or angry.
--- Always consider how the other person is feeling before I decide what to say.
--- Learn how to really build up other people day by day.
You, Jesus, are the living, breathing, eternal Word of God. I cry out to you, the Living Word, to live in my words.
Amen, and amen.