I spent time with a friend not long ago who grew up Roman Catholic but has been in the Assemblies of God since college. We were catching up in family anecdotes, and he used a phrase I haven’t heard in a long time and that isn’t typical lingo in my Christian circles: “Speak Life.”
He was telling me about the effects of speaking life over your children (and others) or failing to do so. Shall we call it a self-fulfilling prophecy? There really does seem to be something to it. Setting aside the kookiness of Word-Faith and other such bizarre distortions of Christian spirituality in the Charismatic movement, there’s still a particular sensitivity and emphasis on spiritual matters that I appreciate (even envy a bit) in my Charismatic friends.
I can understand what he’s talking about even within my own particular circles where we talk about the formative power of rituals. One of the things we say is that the ‘magic’ of how a ritual accomplishes the thing that it proclaims is that we all agree to act as though it does. Our habits of speech and the sort of content we speak into the world (even in our non-verbal communication) and over other people repeatedly are indeed social rituals that form or deform people. Words are indeed like food—either nourishing or corrupting. Speak life, not death.
(And trying really hard to keep the TobyMac song out of my head, cuz I can hear those words. Fortunately, I only know those words from a sound clip in a radio station commercial or something.)