by Hawk Nelson
A friend of mine named Cynthia gave me this Fast of Words devotional by Sylvia Gunter and I was automatically drawn to it. The importance of the words we speak is critical to whether we will receive blessings or curses. So for a 21 day fast our church did in January 2013 my husband and I decided to fast of words. It led me to study the Bible deeply on what it says about how we should speak. See below for scriptures. This fast opened my eyes to how I needed to capture my thoughts before I spoke. I have decided to continue this fast of words as a way of life.
Time and again God brings me to my knees over my heart attitude expressed out of my mouth. More than once, God has led me to fast of negative, critical, judgmental, and complaining words. Why a fast of words? Is that a legitimate application of fasting? The Hebrew word fast means to cover the mouth. For me, it is harder to fast from words than from food. Abstaining from negative words may be as powerful as fasting from food, because it is a particular battlefield for most of us.
A fast of words is one of the fasts in Isaiah 58. Isaiah 58:9b lists not pointing fingers in judgment and no wicked words as conditions of great blessings listed in verses 10b-12.
I remember the first time God led me to fast for 40 days of all negative, complaining, critical, and judgmental words. At first, it was one of the hardest experiences of my Christian life. The problem is not my mouth but my heart. Proverbs 4:23 says "Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life."
About two weeks into my fast, I was treated haughtily at a store. As I left the store, I said to myself, "I'll just take my business elsewhere. That is the second time she has had an attitude with me." Immediately I heard in my spirit, "No, you are the one with the attitude." I wanted to fall to my knees on the sidewalk, crying out, "I am so sick of me!" I know how Isaiah felt when he told God, "Woe is me! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips" (Isa. 6:5). O God, take a coal from the altar and purge this wicked heart of mine. God showed me that He was dealing with a root of pride (Isa. 57:15, 1 Peter 5:5-6). I was puffed up, with no sense of my own spiritual need.
I struggled for a while in this fast of words in what felt like hand-to-hand warfare, but God softened and sweetened my heart. After that season, I felt like a dog in a yard with an invisible electric fence. Every time I opened my mouth to say anything critical, I would get a zap from my loving Father. I reviewed my prayer notebook and was amazed at how many Scriptural insights God gave me during that time. God was being faithful to reveal more of Himself.
For several months I have been keenly aware of living with a grateful heart, thankfully noting God touches great and small. Recently I read a devotional on a thankful heart. The author set up a contrast between thankfulness and negativity. He quoted Paul, when he said "And do not grumble, as some of them did and were killed by the destroyer" (1 Corinthians 10:10). That puts the choice all of us have in very stark contrast: choose thankfulness in all things or choose sides with destruction.
Ask God if He is leading you to do a forty-day fast of critical, judgmental, negative, complaining, gossiping words. You may be amazed what God will do through it. At the very least, your family and friends may be amazed at the change in you, from destruction to blessing.
See Resources page for more information on Sylvia Gunter's ministry.
Ephesians 4:29-32 (NKJV) 29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
Matthew 12:34-37 (NKJV) 34 Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. 36 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Philippians 4:8-9 (NKJV) Meditate on These Things 8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. 9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.
Word Study on Philippians 4:8
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true,
2) loving the truth, speaking the truth, truthful
whatsoever things [are] honest,
1) august, venerable, reverend
2) to be venerated for character, honourable
a) of persons
b) of deeds
Definition of VENERATE
1: to regard with reverential respect or with admiring deference
2: to honor (as an icon or a relic) with a ritual act of devotion
Synonyms: adore, deify, glorify, revere, reverence, worship
whatsoever things [are] just,
1) righteous, observing divine laws
a) in a wide sense, upright, righteous, virtuous, keeping the commands of God
1) of those who seem to themselves to be righteous, who pride themselves to be righteous, who pride themselves in their virtues, whether real or imagined
2) innocent, faultless, guiltless
3) used of him whose way of thinking, feeling, and acting is wholly conformed to the will of God, and who therefore needs no rectification in the heart or life
a) only Christ truly
4) approved of or acceptable of God
b) in a narrower sense, rendering to each his due and that in a judicial sense, passing just judgment on others, whether expressed in words or shown by the manner of dealing with them
whatsoever things [are] pure,
1) exciting reverence, venerable, sacred
a) pure from carnality, chaste, modest
b) pure from every fault, immaculate
whatsoever things [are] lovely,
1) acceptable, pleasing
whatsoever things [are] of good report;
1) sounding well
2) uttering words of good omen, speaking auspiciously
if [there be] any virtue,
1) a virtuous course of thought, feeling and action
a) virtue, moral goodness
2) any particular moral excellence, as modesty, purity
and if [there be] any praise, think on these things.
1) approbation, commendation, praise
Definition of APPROBATION
1 obsolete: proof
2 a: an act of approving formally or officially
b: commendation, praise
See Resources page for more information on where to do a Word Study.
Psalm 141:3 (NKJV) 3 Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.
Isaiah 6:5 (NKJV) 5 So I said: “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, The LORD of hosts.”
1 Peter 2:21-25 (NKJV) 21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: 22 “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; 23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. 25 For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
Proverbs 16:21 (NKJV) 21 The wise in heart will be called prudent, and sweetness of the lips increases learning.
Proverbs 16:23 (NKJV) 23 The heart of the wise teaches his mouth, and adds learning to his lips.
Proverbs 16:24 (KJV) 24 Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.
Proverbs 16:27 (NKJV) 27 An ungodly man digs up evil, and it is on his lips like a burning fire.
Proverbs 16:30 (NKJV) 30 He winks his eye to devise perverse things; he purses his lips and brings about evil.
Proverbs 18:4 (KJV) 4 The words of a man's mouth are as deep waters, and the wellspring of wisdom as a flowing brook.
Proverbs 18:7 (KJV) 7 A fool's mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul.
Proverbs 18:20-21 (NKJV) 20 A man’s stomach shall be satisfied from the fruit of his mouth; from the produce of his lips he shall be filled. 21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.
Proverbs 13:2-3 (NKJV) 2 A man shall eat well by the fruit of his mouth, but the soul of the unfaithful feeds on violence. 3 He who guards his mouth preserves his life, but he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction.
Proverbs 4:4-5 (NKJV) 4 He also taught me, and said to me: “Let your heart retain my words; Keep my commands, and live. 5 Get wisdom! Get understanding! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth.
Proverbs 4:20-24 (NKJV) 20 My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. 21 Do not let them depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart; 22 For they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh. 23 Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life. 24 Put away from you a deceitful mouth, and put perverse lips far from you.
Proverbs 8:6-8 (NKJV) 6 Listen, for I will speak of excellent things, and from the opening of my lips will come right things; 7 For my mouth will speak truth; wickedness is an abomination to my lips. 8 All the words of my mouth are with righteousness; nothing crooked or perverse is in them.
Proverbs 10:11-14 (NKJV) 11 The mouth of the righteous is a well of life, but violence covers the mouth of the wicked. 12 Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins. 13 Wisdom is found on the lips of him who has understanding, but a rod is for the back of him who is devoid of understanding. 14 Wise people store up knowledge, but the mouth of the foolish is near destruction.
Proverbs 10:18-21 (NKJV) 18 Whoever hides hatred has lying lips, and whoever spreads slander is a fool. 19 In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise. 20 The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; the heart of the wicked is worth little. 21 The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of wisdom.
Proverbs 10:31-32 (NKJV) 31 The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom, but the perverse tongue will be cut out. 32 The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable, but the mouth of the wicked what is perverse.
Proverbs 11:9 (NKJV) 9 The hypocrite with his mouth destroys his neighbor, but through knowledge the righteous will be delivered.
Proverbs 12:6 (NKJV) 6 The words of the wicked are, “Lie in wait for blood,” but the mouth of the upright will deliver them.
Proverbs 12:13-14 (NKJV) 13 The wicked is ensnared by the transgression of his lips, but the righteous will come through trouble. 14 A man will be satisfied with good by the fruit of his mouth, and the recompense of a man’s hands will be rendered to him.
Proverbs 12:17-19 (NKJV) 17 He who speaks truth declares righteousness, but a false witness, deceit. 18 There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, but the tongue of the wise promotes health. 19 The truthful lip shall be established forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment.
Proverbs 12:22 (NKJV) 22 Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, but those who deal truthfully are His delight.
Proverbs 6:12-19 (NKJV) The Wicked Man 12 A worthless person, a wicked man, walks with a perverse mouth; 13 He winks with his eyes, He shuffles his feet, He points with his fingers; 14 Perversity is in his heart, He devises evil continually, He sows discord. 15 Therefore his calamity shall come suddenly; Suddenly he shall be broken without remedy. 16 These six things the LORD hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: 17 A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, 18 A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, 19 A false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren.
James 3:1-18 (NKJV) The Untamable Tongue 1 My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. 2 For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. 3 Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. 4 Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. 5 Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. 8 But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? 12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.
Heavenly Versus Demonic Wisdom
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. 17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
Proverbs 15:1-2 (NKJV) 1 A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. 2 The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness.
Proverbs 15:4 (NKJV) 4 A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.
Proverbs 15:23 (NKJV) 23 A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, and a word spoken in due season, how good it is!
Psalm 37:30 (NKJV) 30 The mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom, and his tongue talks of justice.
Colossians 4:6 (NKJV) 6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.
Philippians 2:14 (NKJV) 14 Do all things without complaining and disputing.
Psalm 34:12-14 (NKJV) 12 Who is the man who desires life, and loves many days, that he may see good? 13 Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit. 14 Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.
2 Timothy 2:15-16 (NKJV) 15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16 But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness.
Psalm 119:171-172 (NKJV) 171 My lips shall utter praise, for You teach me Your statutes. 172 My tongue shall speak of Your word, for all Your commandments are righteousness.
James 1:26 (NKJV) 26 If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless.
1 Peter 3:10 (NKJV) 10 For “He who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit.
Ephesians 4:15 (NKJV) 15 But, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ
Proverbs 25:11 (NKJV) 11 A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.
Proverbs 6:2 (NKJV) 2 You are snared by the words of your mouth; you are taken by the words of your mouth.
Ephesians 4:25 (NKJV) 25 Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another.
Acts 4:31 (NKJV) 31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.
Isaiah 50:4 (NKJV) 4 “The Lord GOD has given Me The tongue of the learned, That I should know how to speak A word in season to him who is weary. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear To hear as the learned.
Isaiah 51:16 (NKJV) 16 And I have put My words in your mouth; I have covered you with the shadow of My hand, That I may plant the heavens, lay the foundations of the earth, and say to Zion, ‘You are My people.’”
Isaiah 55:11 (NKJV) 11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
Psalm 19:14 (KJV) 14 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.
Psalm 17:3 (NKJV) 3 You have tested my heart; You have visited me in the night; You have tried me and have found nothing; I have purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.
Psalm 63:3-5 (NKJV) 3 Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips shall praise You. 4 Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. 5 My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.
Psalm 71:8 (NKJV) 8 Let my mouth be filled with Your praise and with Your glory all the day.
Isaiah 54:17 (NKJV) 17 No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is from Me,” says the Lord.
Proverbs 14:3 (NKJV) 3 In the mouth of a fool is a rod of pride, but the lips of the wise will preserve them.
Matthew 15:11 (NKJV) 11 Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.”
Matthew 15:18-19 (NKJV) 18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. 19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.
Proverbs 21:23 (NKJV) 23 Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles.
Exodus 4:10-12 (NKJV) 10 Then Moses said to the Lord, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” 11 So the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord? 12 Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.”
James 1:19 (NKJV) 19 So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath;
The Holy Spirit can give us the right words to say.
Mark 13:11 (NKJV) 11 But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit.
Comfort and Edify One Another
by Rick Renner
To build, build up, building, building up, restore, rebuild, repair
See Resources page for more information on where to do a Word Study.
Romans 14:19 (NKJV) 19 Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NKJV) 11 Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.
Ephesians 4:29 (NKJV) 29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.
Ephesians 4:11-12 (NKJV) 11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,