The word of God is living and powerful, for it is communicated from the mind of God and carries the weight of His divine wisdom, foresight and power. (cf. Hebrews 4:12) The word of God is able to instruct us and teach us, pointing us in the way of righteousness and preparing us for every good work (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16-17). The word of God is able to save us, through instructing us concerning the salvation of Jesus, and how we might obtain it (cf. 2 Timothy 3:15; Romans 1:16) It was through His divine word that God created the heavens and the earth, and all therein. (cf. Genesis 1)
Truly, the word of God is able to accomplish great things.
The words of men are not so powerful. We cannot speak anything into existence. Our words are often foolish, lacking understanding, and frequently the things we say are in error, reflecting our own ignorance.
There are some teachers and preachers who try to convince men that their words are as powerful as those of God, teaching that if you just speak with enough confidence, all that you say will be accomplished. Some believe something similar of prayer: that if you just pray with enough confidence and faith, God is honor bound to give you what you request of Him.
But this is not necessarily what God has tried to teach us about prayer. We might notice that the apostle Paul prayed fervently to the Lord, in full faith, for Jesus to remove a “thorn” from his flesh, but Jesus declined to do so, assuring His beloved apostle that His grace would be sufficient, and His power perfected in Paul’s weakness. (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:8-9) Prayer is powerful and effective, but our words and our desires alone are not sufficient to save us or compel God to act according to our every whim.
Likewise, James warned his readers that their prayers were rendered ineffective because they were praying selfishly, wanting material goods to spend on their own desires. (cf. James 4:3) Prayer is not a means to accomplish self-gratification, and God, the righteous judge, will not be compelled by our petty demands, if and when we ask amiss.
Our words do not have the power that some would have us believe.
But, again, the Word of God is powerful. And it is not far off, and hard to be found, rather, we read “it is very near you, it is in your hearts, and in your mouth.” (Deuteronomy 30:14) Moses taught this concerning the law God had given to Israel, the very same law that they were to obey. (cf. Deuteronomy 30:11-16) Paul said that this truth was just as applicable to the Gospel, saying, “and this is the word that we preach.” (Romans 10:8)
Consider what it means for God’s word to be in your heart and in your mouth. It means that you know that word, and you speak that word. Such knowledge only comes through study and meditation upon the word, and such speaking comes only from a choice to confess Christ through teaching His gospel to others.
God desires His word to be in our hearts. The righteous man that meditates upon the word, day and night, is blessed as a tree planted by the waters, bearing fruit in season. (cf. Psalm 1:2) Again and again God emphasizes the importance of knowing His word, saying even, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” (Hosea 4:6)
Likewise God wants His word to be on our mouths. “If anyone speaks,” says the Spirit, “let him speak as the oracles of God.” (1 Peter 4:11a) And again, we read Jesus say, “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel.” (Mark 16:15)
Here is a thought: Our words, based in our own wisdom are rather weak but God’s words are always powerful. When we speak the words God has given us, we become an instrument for that power. When we pray according to the things God teaches us in His word, it is then our prayers are powerful and effectual.
Is God’s word in your heart and on your lips? That is where God, in His grace, wants it to be, so that we can be effective as His servants and children, accomplishing His will in the world, not according to our own power, but through His divine power.
If you would like to better learn more of God’s word, the church of Christ invites you to study and worship with us. We meet at 234 Chapel Drive, Gallipolis, Ohio. Likewise, if you have any questions, please share them with us through our website: chapelhillchurchofchrist.org.
Jonathan McAnulty is minister of Chapel Hill Church of Christ.