52 Workday Prayers: Psalm 39 - Keep My Tongue from Sin
I said, “I will watch my ways
and keep my tongue from sin;
I will put a muzzle on my mouth
while in the presence of the wicked.”
Gracious God, sometimes it’s hard to keep my tongue from sin, especially at work. I want to speak words of wisdom and peace. I want to affirm and encourage. I want to speak the truth in love. Many times I do this, by your grace.
And then there are other times. . . .
Like when someone is angry with me. I know that “a gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Prov 15:1). I want to be a person of gentle answers. But sometimes my heart starts racing and my mouth starts speaking and, before I realize it, harsh words are coming from my mouth. They hurt people. They injure relationships. They impede progress. Of these words I am not proud. Forgive me!
There are other times when I am perfectly calm and cool, yet I speak in ways that are wrong. Like when people are gossiping and I join in, enjoying the feeling of superiority and the privilege of an insider. I can say things about people that should not be said, even if they’re true. Now, I recognize that “a perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends” (Prov 16:28). I know that speaking about others behind their back can be painful and divisive. But sometimes it feels so good to do it. Forgive me!
Then there are the times when I bend the truth. Oh, I don’t want to say that I lie (even if that’s accurate!). But I can speak in ways that are hardly truth-full. Why? Sometimes to promote myself, but more often to protect myself. It’s so much easier to say I was caught in traffic than to say I just wasn’t being responsible about the time. It’s so easy to tell my superiors their ideas are great rather than to be honest about my hesitations.
Gracious God, I confess that too often I do not keep my tongue from sin. I ask for your forgiveness. I also ask for your help. May the words of mouth – all the words of my mouth, including my words at work – and the meditations of my heart “be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer” (Ps 19:14). Amen.
Ponder Throughout the Day
Your words matter. Speak the truth in love.
For Further Reflection
Read all of Psalm 39, paying attention to what the Spirit of God is stirring up in your heart, especially in relationship to your work. Talk with God about what you are thinking and feeling.
You might also reflect on the following passage from the Psalms:
How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell. For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, but no one can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and brackish water? Can a fig tree, my brothers and sisters, yield olives, or a grapevine figs? No more can salt water yield fresh. – James 3:5-12
This prayer is part of a collection: 52 Workday Prayers: Learn from the Psalms How to Pray through Your Work. To purchase this devotional and small group guide, visit the De Pree Center store.