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This is the fifth in a weekly series of mini-devotionals on GRACE, which is the theme of the 2012 June 2 Worldwide Day of Prayer for Prodigals.

“That’s disgraceful!”

“You are so ungrateful.”

“That behavior makes you persona non grata here.”

All of these phrases have a root of grace—or lack of it.  They mean without grace.  And they are words that any of us might have said to our prodigals, because they are true.

Yet God tells us just the opposite should be true of the words we speak.  They should be full of grace:

“…your lips have been anointed with grace, since God has blessed you forever.” (Psalm 45:2)

“One who loves a pure heart and who speaks with grace will have the king for a friend.” (Proverbs 22:11)

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Colossians 4:6)

“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17)

I am convinced that one of the most important ways we extend grace to our prodigals is through our words.

Words are powerful.  They have the potential to inflame discord and to inflict great emotional harm, or the capacity to encourage repentance and restoration, to offer healing and reconciliation.

Certainly, we must speak truth, and our prodigals often need to hear some hard truths.  But God’s Word reminds us how we deliver those words:

“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”  ( Ephesians 4:15)

Easy?  No.  Our frustration prompts negative words.  Their disrespect elicits a raised voice.  Anger arouses emotions.  Conflict escalates.

How?  How do we speak truth in love.  How do we make sure our words are seasoned with grace?

Some practical thoughts:

Count to 10 before you speak.

Speak slowly, calmly, gently and firmly.

Think:  Will these words throw oil or water on the fire?

Consider:  Would you like someone to speak such words, in that tone of voice, to you?

Recognize:  The words you speak today can be part of your relationship with your prodigal for all the years to come.

Realize:  Your tone of voice can turn neutral words into destructive words.

Remember:  You love this person.

And most of all, stop to pray before you speak.  Make sure you are filled with the Spirit.  Ask Him to govern your tongue, to release His love into your heart.  Choose to be an instrument of God’s grace.

Gracious words may or may not lessen the carnage in the immediate “conversation,” though they should help.  But over time words filled with grace will eliminate the fuel that feeds what often becomes an inferno.  Return, reconciliation, restoration will occur more easily when the words we have spoken have not done irreparable harm, when grace has prevailed.

Love speaks grace.   So should we.

What about you?  Do you need to add more grace seasoning to your words?

c2012 Judy Douglass

If you would like more information, to request prayer for a prodigal, or to join our full-of-grace community, please write to prayerforprodigalsatgmaildotcom with your questions or names, or for an invitation.

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I have been very occupied with some normal events of a woman’s life:  time with sisters, working through sadness in my son’s life, and rejoicing in the birth of my fourth grandson.  These things are true for most women–given to us by God.

God has also given us visions and opportunities beyond what most of us even imagine, as expressed by these wise words from women:

“The most important thing about a woman is her view of God.”  Vonette Bright (co-founder of Campus Crusade, author of many books)

“Why (would) God in this solitary instance… endow a being with powers which He never intended her to employ?  Catherine Booth (co-founder of the Salvation Army–an amazing woman: read her story

“If God hasn’t provided it, then it isn’t a need.”  Elisabeth Elliot (author, speaker)

“Being god’s image bearer means my highest calling as a woman is to know Him, to represent God in this world.”  Carolyn Custis James (author of Half the Church).

“Faith is not a feeling.”  Ney Bailey (shepherd of CCC women worldwide) Read her book by the same title.

“Missionary life is simply a chance to die.” And “One can give without loving, but one cannot love without giving.”   Amy Carmichael (founder of Donhavur Village in India, where she rescued and raised thousands of young girls)

Oh, and here’s one from me:  “God raises me up to more than I can be.”

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Isn’t it great when you discover things in common with people?  It’s especially nice when it is someone special to you.

My grandson Aidan and I have some important things in common.  The first is red boots.  I have red cowboy boots.  I really like them.  They are so comfortable.  And give me a good reason to wear red clothes.  Of course, they remind me of Texas.  I wear them when we serve Texas BBQ to our guests—and when I ride horses.

Aidan has red boots too.  His are galoshes—and he wears them everywhere:  to ride his bike, to explore the backyard, to visit Jeedoo, even to church.  They look especially good with his red Spiderman outfit.

Another thing we have in common is words. I love words, stories, grammar.  Aidan may not know he loves these same things, but he does.

Aidan is 3 ½ .  Since he was 2 he has been surprising us with his vocabulary—dangerous, similar, pasture, suspense.  He loves to hear and tell stories, spinning preposterous tales of daring do.  But the truly amazing thing is he uses correct grammar.  This is most obvious when it comes to adverbs–he uses them appropriately.  He even corrects himself: “We did that so quick…I mean quickly.”

I love all my grandchildren—immensely.  No favorites.  But there are special, endearing things about each one that I especially appreciate.  In Aidan’s case it is red boots and words.

Jesus is crazy about you and me.  And He has this amazing plan to make each of us like Himself.  That’s a challenging job, requiring great patience and perseverance on His part and ours.

But you know, sometimes I sort of get it.  When I learn to act more like Jesus– to say “Thank You, Lord.” Or “Your will, not mine.”  When I begin to demonstrate unconditional love for someone who isn’t so lovable, when I give sacrificially, I am looking more like Jesus.

I’m sure my growth in becoming like Jesus doesn’t make Him love me more.  And I have no illusions about how far from true Christlikeness I am.  But I bet He feels something special because we have something in common.

Kind of makes me want to become more like Him.

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