My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. James 1:19
A prayer to speak only when needed
LORD, I would like to make this brief but I seem to have an issue with words. They flow freely from my mouth without filters. At times I gasp at myself for the words that exit me. James is so right when he shows me that my mouth is like the rudder for my ship. And I want to be on the right course with you, God. Sometimes I need the entire trinity to help me grab hold of my rudder. But I know with practice, your grace and the urging of the Holy Spirit I can and will be the quiet captain of my ship. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
At my first professional job after graduating from college, I found myself in a new position in which the company heads wanted me to help get the entire company on a new course. I was only 23 years old and immature in many ways. The job entailed me meeting with the directors of each division of the company and educating them and guiding them through this new direction. One particular gentleman was one of those types that doesn’t say much in meetings. He needed to ruminate a while – go take a walk and a “secret” smoke – and then give his input. He made me very uncomfortable.
After I would bring up a topic and give my input we would sit in silence. That is, until I couldn’t bear it anymore and then I would start babbling. And the more I babbled the deeper, as they say, into the weeds I would get.
Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. 2 Timothy 2:16
When we feel the need to fill empty spaces with words we can find ourselves making promises we can’t meet, contradicting ourselves, confusing the issue, giving bad advice, or revealing more than we should. I found myself doing all of these things in those meetings until one day a friend gave me the good advice to stop talking and let the man catch up.
You would think that lesson alone would’ve trained me in the art of being ok with silence but it hasn’t. Just the other day I had to apologize to someone for interrupting her while she was sharing a difficult issue. One of my walking buddies, with whom I have a very trusting relationship, has taken to saying, “That isn’t helpful for me right now,” when I am talking at her too much.
The root of this babbling seems to stem from a need to make sure people know my opinion. So many of us want to make sure we are “heard.” When in actuality God places more importance on the kindness of listening.
I am getting better at this thing called silence. My prayer life now includes the request of God to help me keep my mouth shut when I need to and speak only when I need to. I have a feeling I’ll have that as part of my prayers for a long time. Until I get it right, my ship will tack back and forth a bit until I can get it to smooth sailing.
If you want this too, add the prayer to your daily prayer list and watch and see how God works in your life!