Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore stand in awe of God. (Eccl. 5:7)

THE TEACHER WARNED HIS HEARERS against impetuous and excessive words during prayer. Our prayers, what we say both in private and public, should be carefully weighed before we speak. Yes, God knows our thoughts, but once our words leave our mouths, we cannot take them back. As E. Stanley Jones graciously reminds us, “Prayer is surrender—surrender to the will of God and cooperation with that will. If I throw out a boathook from the boat and catch hold of the shore and pull, do I pull the shore to me, or do I pull myself to the shore? Prayer is not pulling God to my will, but the aligning of my will to the will of God.”

The author of Ecclesiastes also stressed that prayer requires the action of listening, understanding, and dwelling before our God before we speak. This can be difficult, especially in a noisy and clamoring world that demands an instant response. So, today, be quick to listen and slow to speak. Allow His Spirit to guide your thoughts and quiet your emotions, allowing your words to be full of meaning and purpose rather than superfluous and empty. Practice the discipline of not having (or taking) the last word, and receive!

Make Charles Vaughn’s prayer your own: “Lord, make Your will our will in all things.”

Jeremy Summers is director of adult spiritual formation for the Church and Multiplication Division of The Wesleyan Church.