Basically, we find in Scripture two kinds of speech: faith talk and faithless talk. First, I will cite a few examples of talk that doesn’t fly too high in faith. (Maybe we will be embarrassed to recognize ourselves in these.)
Naomi, Ruth’s mother-in-law, sees all her troubles as the Lord’s hand against her (Ruth 1:13, 20-21). It does not occur to her to that she may be merely in the middle of a story and that God has a plan for a glorious finale. Too bad. As it turns out, she ends up praising God in the end, but how much better for her—and how much richer a reward—if she had started praising God when things still looked bleak.
During a famine, two women beg the king of Israel for help. He replies, “If the LORD will not help you, how shall I help you?” (2 Kings 6:27). Soon afterward, God brings relief in an unexpected way. But how much better it would have been for the king if he had said to the women: “Let us keep praying, sisters, for God is well able to help.”
The elderly high priest Zechariah is told by an angel that his old wife will have a baby. He replies with skepticism (Luke 1:18). In the end he is still privileged to be the father of John the Baptist, but there is always some incalculable forfeiture of blessing for words of unbelief.
Contrast these lackluster examples of speech with the words of Naaman’s servant girl, who upon learning of her master’s leprosy, exclaims in childlike faith: “Would that my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy” (2 Kings 5:3).
And the words of young David facing the giant Goliath: “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Samuel 17:26).
And the words of Habakkuk, when Babylon is in the ascendancy and he knows they will soon swallow up Judah: “Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines … yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation” (Habakkuk 3:17-18).
It matters how we talk. In every situation that arises, and every question someone asks us, let us consciously speak with the highest expression of faith.