A Prayer for the Words We Speak
By Ashley Moore
“There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” – Proverbs 12:18, ESV
The words,” sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me, ” couldn’t be further from the truth. From being taunted as a child to office gossip, we’ve all experienced the bruising effects of words on our lives. I’m willing to bet if I were across the table from you right now and asked you to recall memories, you could easily recall a time when someone said something hurtful to you. Because the truth is, whether we acknowledge it or not, our words carry so much weight. Our words can be used to build up or tear down. They can motivate or discourage. They can be a source of an inflicted wound or healing balm for another’s soul.
So let me ask, has anyone said anything hurtful about you? Do their words stick with you now, possibly years after they were spoken? Maybe you still hear the voice of your overly critical mother when you make decisions. “Don’t do that; I won’t have people thinking I raised an idiot!”
Or perhaps you wince at the memory of the teacher embarrassing you in front of the entire class. “Honey, don’t think for a second you will get into college with these test scores.” Or perhaps a confidante betrayed your trust, turning your personal hurt into public shame? “You know, I don’t feel bad for her divorce; I bet he left her because she is such a nag.”
Our key verse is true. Words can cut us oh so deep. Other places in Scripture communicate the weight of our words as well.
- Proverbs 18:21 says the tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.
- Proverbs 17:28 says, even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent.
- Proverbs 15:1 reads, A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
We’ve all likely been on the receiving end of the rash words spoken by another person. Maybe their words stoked strong emotions in us or led us to retaliate unkindly, adding salt to the wound they inflicted.
Conversely, I shutter as I think of who may have a painful memory of hurtful words I’ve spoken. With the knowledge from Scripture and with the help of the Holy Spirit, let us be diligent in choosing our words purposefully. We can use our conversations to provide comfort, not elicit pain. After all, our role as Christians is to be the aroma of Christ everywhere we go (2 Corinthians 2:15-17). We want our words to be a refreshing, alluring scent trail to be followed and not don’t a stench for those who Christ is calling to Himself.
Words can be painful. Sometimes I think it might be easier to endure sticks and stones over a verbal attack. May we extend forgiveness to those who have carelessly spoken a rash word that caused us pain. And ask the Holy Spirit to transform our rash words into words full of wisdom that bring healing. Should a harmful word escape our lips, may we be quick to repent and repair, acknowledging the impact of what it’s like to be on the receiving end of a rash word.
God, thank you that the blood of Jesus covers not only my sin but the sins that others have inflicted on me. You died for every harsh word we’ve spoken and the words that others have spoken against us. Thank you. Lord, forgive us for how we have carelessly spoken and hurt the people around us. God, thank you for the reminders from your life-giving Word that the things we say are so powerful. God, would you make us tender to conviction when our tongues become sharp? Would you set a guard over our mouths and keep watch over the door of our lips, Lord (Psalm 141:3). May we wield the power of our tongues to build each other up and encourage one another. And when we fail, Jesus, would you forgive us and give us the courage and wisdom to use our words to bring healing?
In Jesus’ name, amen.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/rainierridao
Ashley Moore is a writer and host of be the two™podcast. She is known for her relatability and for passionately writing and speaking about mental, emotional, and relational health from a biblical worldview. She has written for Kingdom Edge Magazine, Guideposts, Crosswalk, The Secret Place, enLIVEn, The Bubbling Brook and more. If Ashley isn’t writing, you can find her with her husband, three children, and two floppy-eared Goldens on their south Georgia farmland. The best way to connect with Ashley is to grab a free devotional or Bible study and join her newsletter at free.ashleynicolemoore.com.
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