How important are words to God? How important is his own word, to God?
According to John14:26, the Holy Spirit will bring back to our remembrance the words that Jesus told us. He’s our “Reminder-in-Chief” of God’s word, and he does it in several ways:
By our reading, studying and meditating on the scriptures for ourselves (the Holy Spirit can’t remind us of something we didn’t know in the first place); by hearing teachings and sermons of people like pastors and Bible teachers; and even by the conversation of Christian friends, our mentors whether they consider themselves as that or not.
Here are some reminders, scriptures dealing with our use of words. We all use words in casual conversations, as well as in our thoughts:
- Proverbs 6:2 – “Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth.” (KJV)
- Proverbs 18:21 – “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”
- Proverbs 21:23 – “Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.”
- James 3:19 – “Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.”
- Ephesians 4:29 – “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”
Since you are a hearer of your own words, they should be ministering (delivering) grace to you yourself, as well as anybody else. Even in your private thoughts, you’re hearing words.
So what kind of words might you be hearing from your own self? Words of confident, relaxed faith? Or words of frustration, irritation, annoyance, impatience, anxiety, worry, doubt, anger, fear? Pain or disappointment?
It’s a common temptation to let our words contain stuff that doesn’t minister grace to anyone, including ourselves. Even the words we may use in prayer. The temptation is to pray in exasperation, desperation, frustration, and not in faith.
Then too, did you ever begin to pray but then get distracted? Distraction is another common temptation, losing focus, the mind wandering to family situations or work problems.
Trials and temptations – do they affect prayer?
Yes, they do. Of course they do. But there’s an excellent example of coming out ahead despite them – our primary example, Jesus.
Matthew Chapter 4 and Luke Chapter 4 describe the temptation of Jesus in the Judean wilderness, after he received the Holy Spirit. We tend to think about the desert as being empty, and that idea limits our ideas of the temptations Jesus faced. But he was tempted in every single way that we are, and that temptation started in the desert.
“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb. 4:15, NASB)
Let’s think about that a bit. What exactly was Jesus tempted with, during those 40 days before Satan began “sweet-talking” him? Where was that wilderness, what was in it, what it was like at that time? Here’s some interesting information about it:
East and south of Jerusalem, the Judean Wilderness is one of the smallest deserts in the world, much of it lying adjacent and west of the Dead Sea. It was and is craggy and rough, hilly and mountainous with steep cliffs and deep ravines, difficult but not impossible to traverse on well-used trails criss-crossing the area. Takes concentration.
There were occasional streams and many wadis, some pools of water in shaded areas and oases with trees and other vegetation.
Sparsely inhabited, it contained small villages on its edges (Bethlehem was one of those), as well as Bedouin encampments, camels, sheep and goats, leopards and other wild creatures. People! Company! Interesting conversations! Temptations? Perhaps.
Then there was the spectacular and huge Herod’s Palace (Herodium)* south of Jerusalem, which may contain his burial site. It has been the site of an intermittent archeological dig over the years. In the days of Jesus’s wilderness temptation, this was a busy place with many people coming and going, the Roman guards who served Herod, as well as Herod and his entourage.
Masada is also there, overlooking the Dead Sea. It was captured and built up by Herod as a military fortress. More Roman guards came and went; lots of people to see.
(Both of these historical sites are Israeli National Parks today, popular tourist attractions.)
There were quite a few trees in the Judean Desert; they existed then and still do today, such as these:
The Carob / Locust tree (above left). It’s fruit is edible whether green or dried, and is frequently used as a chocolate substitute. The Acacia is also called the Rain tree (above right) because its leaves fold together in rain or high humidity. It’s used for animal fodder, gum, and has many medical uses.
Also located in the desert were date palms, pistachio trees, and wild figs. Fasting would definitely have been a temptation for Jesus; there was plenty of food and water available.
Physical fatigue, loneliness sometimes, and a great many distractions including people and scenery. There were lots of things to do, lots of things to see – and lots of things to guard against, including wild animals.
Not to mention the enemy, who used words to tempt Jesus to compromise, as he does to tempt believers today. But Jesus knew the importance and power of the scriptures, and he made excellent use of them. So can we. So must we, if we’re going to Pray Less and Succeed More.
* For more information about Herodium,, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herodium and http://allaboutjerusalem.com/attraction/herodion-national-park.