Within the past few months, my husband and I were sitting on our deck when the phone rang. As I listened to what was shared with me on the other end, my head began a slow, disbelieving shake and my mouth almost couldn’t form words of response. I was hearing the sort of next installment in a drama that had already aired too many episodes. I couldn’t believe it. It was so high on the “Are you kidding me?” scale that I quickly hit the speakerphone button so my husband could listen in. After a few minutes, we reached an uncomfortable way to move forward with the caller and hung up.
Now, historically, when this kind of thing crops up, my husband and I immediately start talking about it—and by “talking” I mean dissecting how things went, how things are going wrong, how so-and-so needs to do this, how the sky is falling, how this may usher in the end of the world as we know it…on and on.
I don’t think we are alone in this reaction.
My experience with most homo sapiens is that when something is not going the way they want, they search out other homo sapiens and start “talking”.
This particular night, as soon as the call disconnected, I knew the USS Talk was about to sail. Before it could, I grabbed my husband’s hand and said, “Let’s pray”. Honestly, the situation was such a mess, that I just didn’t trust that we knew how to “talk” about it.
We prayed – one of those prayer times birthed from desperation. “Lord, if You don’t do something, nothing of any good can happen.” It was the kind of prayer that is stripped away of everything but humbled hearts interceding to the only One who has the power to redeem the mess.
As we finished our verbal prayer, we sat in silence and just listened. The night was still. The lack of wind amplified the sound and song of every invisible creature that was around us. I listened because I was too in shock to think.
And into that space, I received this from God. “For the rest of this night, you two are not allowed to “talk” about this situation unless you are speaking to Me about the situation in prayer.”
Wow – that took a minute to process. How do I know it was God? Because who in their right mind comes up with something like that?
I told my husband what I had received. We’ve been together for 17 years, and this has never been the way we’ve handled a difficult issue. Like most people who pray, we usually “talk” until we’re exhausted with the mess and then we pray about it. Or, we pause and pray and then talk until we’re exhausted with the mess.
But this silent night, God wanted to teach us something.
For the rest of the evening, a thought about the situation would occur to one of us. We’d open our mouth to “talk” but then convert it to a 3-way prayer conversation. We’d still share what was bugging us, but it wasn’t just so we could talk to each other about how messed up we thought things were. This night, we were still laying it all out there, but we were also actively engaging God in the dialog.
Proverbs 10:19 says this, “Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.” NIV.
In the NLT it’s worded this way, “Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.”
Look at the practical applications of this:
- Words matter. When a situation is at an incredibly tender state, the words you speak are contributing, spiritually, to the situation. They will either be a blessing or a curse. You may think that if someone can’t hear the ugly things you’re saying that it doesn’t matter, but there are spiritual forces that do. They will take those words and use them to cause harm—either to the one you’ve got an issue with or to yourself by robbing you of peace and the ability to receive direction because you’re so eaten up with the words you’ve spewed. For another blog post about the importance of words, click here.
- The more you say the more opportunities you have to say something stupid. Enough said.
- Sin is not ended the more you talk about it. Even if you’re in the right, talking about it outside of talking directly to the people involved doesn’t make what they did move toward correction. Know how I know? Because God said, “Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.”
To the one reading this who says, “This is unrealistic. I just need to vent sometimes. I need to process.” OK. I’m not suggesting that you stop processing – I’m sharing with all of us what God shared with me: Process with Him. You can do it in the company of others if need be, but take it Up before you take it out.
As that long night progressed, we had peace even though we didn’t have resolution. That’s what God offers. As we do things His way, we are available for these kinds of blessings in the midst of our struggles.
So to a world that needs to hear: Let’s shut up and pray.