Every once in a while, I like to check an app that counts the words I use on Facebook. The end result is a cloud full of words that people see when they read my posts. (You can see my most recent one above.)
Sometimes, I like the cloud– I love to see it filled with words like Love, People, God, Prayer, Joy, Peace, Thankful, etc. I’d like to think that this is how I always look and sound. Of course it isn’t. I don’t always speak encouragement and love on people. Sometimes, I complain and rehearse negative self-talk, or I explode and rant about bad drivers, rude customers, constant bills, and more. Checking on my word count may not keep me from using negative words altogether, but it does show me patterns I may not be seeing or hearing on my own or from my friends.
My prayer life acts in this same way–especially as I journal about my prayers. I can look back through my prayer journal, and see patterns in prayer requests, notes, and even answers to prayer. Sometimes, I see patterns of struggle–desperation, need, frustration. Sometimes, the pattern is steady; other times it is a roller coaster of ups and downs.
It’s important to spend a little time periodically getting feedback like this. Why? Because what we actually say (and pray) may be very different from what we think we have said. Jesus was very careful about words:
Matthew 12:35-37 English Standard Version (ESV)
35 The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. 36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Mark 10:17-18 English Standard Version (ESV)
17 And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.
Paul is also careful to distinguish between words:
Romans 5:7-8 English Standard Version (ESV)
7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
I include the last two examples because they both refer to “Good” people. I want people to see God’s goodness in me. But idle or careless words and habits can show up in my thought life, my prayer life, my on-line life, and my face-to-face conversations. In attempting to show how “good” I am (self-righteousness), or how clever I am (even at someone else’s expense), or how__________________________________ (daring, popular, hard-working…you get the idea) I am, it compromises all that I want my life to say about God, and all that He is waiting to say through me.
Words matter– whether in praying or blogging or commenting on someone else’s post. I pray that I am making mine count!