Deliver Me From Idle Words

Deliver Me From Idle Words


Tremendous power lies hidden in the smallness of a single word. Seemingly insignficant, a word holds within itself the power to encourage or to unleash the demon of despair. All of creation came into being by the Word. It seems God’s creative example holds within itself the greatest model for the human tongue.

I suppose that’s why I find myself in a constant struggle with my words. As an Orthodox writer I fear that what I build, syllable by syllable, may become just another Babel. I’d rather be made mute than to speak that which brings forth the destruction of another.

There’s something about crafting words, something that touches the depths of my heart. But I worry about the words I share and I’m never at peace with them. But it’s this fear and trembling that will protect me from the tempest of my words. Only fools speak free and much. Every time I open my mouth, every time my fingers race across a keyboard, I set my feet on perilous ground.

Words must bring forth life or they should be locked behind the door of the lips.

idle words

Words must be creative.

Let there be light. When I write, I ask myself, do my words bring forth light in a world veiled in darkness? Let the dry land appear. Do they offer a sure footing for my neighbor or have I set a deadly snare? Let the earth bring forth fruit. Do my words bear fruit in the ones who receive them?

Let there be life.

As a writer, my prayer is that I may not seek to be right, but to love. That I may not seek to correct, but to tend wounds. That every word that pours forth from my heart may bear the gift of life to the one who receives. Each time I sit to craft a sentence, I pray that every word that escapes will give courage to the one who dares to take it.

And I pray that every word born of my weakness will be silenced. As someone who dares to write publicly, I pray that God will guide me in the path of silence.

idle words

The Great Fast upon us, I can’t help but think of the lenten prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian and how we’ll be praying it together, countless times during this season. And once again I consider the petitions – the four evil spirits from which we beg to be delivered, the ones remedied by the four life-giving virtues for which we ask.

Deliver me from idle words.

Idle words. Argologia. Words that work nothing. As I write, I bear in my heart the knowledge that I’ll be judged for every idle word I share, every word that isn’t aimed at the building up and encouragement of my neighbor. And I pray for the remedy of idle words.

Grant me the Spirit of love.

Agape. It’s the love that knows no offense. It knows no conditions. This is the love that doesn’t consider itself, but seeks the good of the other. This Spirit for which I ask is to love as God loves. Because I know, if I have the Spirit of love, then and only then will my words give life to those around me.

Let my words be those that work only that which is good. Let all that comes forth from my heart be a eu-logia, a good word. A blessing.

This is my writer’s prayer – evlogia.

O Lord and Master of my life, the spirit of idleness, of meddling, of love of power, and of idle words, grant me not.

But the spirit of continence, of humility, of patience, and of love, do Thou grant unto me Thy servant.

Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to perceive mine own offenses, and not to judge my brother, for blessed art Thou unto ages of ages.


Posted by the Orthodox Christian Network.  You can find the Orthodox Christian Network on Google+.

About author

Katherine Johnson

My name is Katherine and I never go by Kathy, but you can call me Mary. That's my church name. Either way, you see, I'm one of those converts to Orthodoxy who finds herself called by two names. I like to think of it as binomial nomenclature, Byzantine style.

A little confusion is a small price to pay for such an amazing Faith.

And me? Well, after graduating from university, I turned down an opportunity to study law. Decided that a family suited me just fine. My husband, Doug, and I are blessed with seven children, infant to teen.

I specialize in finding God in the most unexpected places, like the kitchen sink or the laundry room. Or sometimes when I'm curled up on the couch surrounded by children and a good book. (Did I mention we homeschool?)

So after full days of keeping home and caring for my family, I stay up way too late and write about the blessings of my life. Those reflections on finding grace in the profoundly ordinary? I've made it a habit to share them on my blog, seamless.

I look forward to meeting you here again and again.