"Don't talk out of both sides of your mouth."
- Proverbs 4:24 MSG
The other day, my husband, Joe, and his buddy were talking about a mutual friend who was doing so well financially that he was going to retire at a very early age. My husband's buddy remarked, "My finances are in such bad shape that I'll be working till I'm 95 years old!" Joe joined in with a hearty, "So will I!" When my husband told me about this conversation, I issued him a stern warning. I reminded him that he had recently begun earnestly praying that the Lord would enable us to get out of debt before the end of this year. And I told him that if he was serious about having his prayers answered, he had better get his attitude and words in line with his petitions.
The Bible warns us against being "double-minded." James 1:5 invites us to pray for wisdom whenever we need it. But the next verse tells us that if we really want God to answer our prayer, then we must not doubt or waver. "But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does." (James 1:6-8 NIV) In other words, we must not "undo" our own prayers. God's words are so powerful that He simply spoke, and the world came into being. We are created in His image, so our words carry a certain amount of authority in this earth, too. That's why Jesus warned us so often about our speech. He said: "But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned." (Matthew 12:36-37 NIV) Another translation puts it even more bluntly: "Every one of these careless words is going to come back to haunt you. There will be a time of Reckoning. Words are powerful; take them seriously. Words can be your salvation. Words can also be your damnation." (Matthew 12:36-37 MSG) You might say, "Well, I was just kidding." Let me quote a godly man I heard speak many years ago--"If you don't mean it, don't say it!" Or as one Scripture tells us, "Don't talk out of both sides of your mouth"! (Proverbs 4:24 MSG)
When Jesus teaches us how to have mountain-moving faith, He emphasizes the power of our words. "Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says." (Mark 11:22-23 NKJV) Notice that He uses the word "says" three times. And He says that whatever we say, believing, will eventually come to pass in our lives. That can be good news or bad news, depending on what we are saying. Suppose we say something like: "Well, the flu is going around again this season, and I just know that I'm going to get it--I always do!" When our faith links up with our words, we can actually call forth negative things like these into our lives, without really meaning to. As one man puts it, "Don't call the cat when you want the dog!" We'd be wiser to say, "I believe I'm getting better all the time!" When you look at this passage of Scripture from now on, remember Jesus' words, "He will have whatever he says." Then ask yourself, "Do I really want to have all the things that I've been saying?" If not, then you need to ask the Lord to help you to control your speech. David prayed, "Take control of what I say, O Lord, and guard my lips." (Psalm 141:3 NLT) That's a good prayer for all of us to pray regularly.
Scripture warns us not to engage in "foolish, sinful, silly and corrupt talk," but to "voice [our] thankfulness to God." (Ephesians 5:4 AMP) The Lord would have been more pleased if my husband had refused to speak words of doubt and defeat, and had instead begun thanking God that the answers to his prayers were on the way, declaring, "Thank You, Lord, that increase is on the way! Thank You that debt-free living is on the way!" Scripture says that God has plans to prosper us and do us good. (Jeremiah 29:11) Let's not hinder His plans or our prayers with our own mouths. Let's cooperate with Him all the way, so that we can reap all the good harvests He has in store for us!
Prayer: Lord, please forgive me for the times I prayed about a matter and then spoke words of unbelief over it. Grant me revelation from heaven about the power of my words, and help me to control my speech. Thank You that as I speak words of faith and gratitude, I will witness You working mightily on my behalf!
- J. M. Farro