I think I speak for most people when I say that when we are feeling irritated or short on patience, we can be harsh with our words. Often times, the people we love most are on the receiving end of the harshness. Sometimes, the words come out when we feel hurt because “you hurt me so I am going to hurt you.” As my pastor always says, hurting people hurt people.

As we get older and wiser, we learn how to keep our emotions more in check, which (hopefully) leads to controlling the words that come out of our mouths. I am not always good at this. Sometimes harshness slips through the cracks of my control and it often gets taken out on the people closest to me. This sucks the fun and joy right out of life and is not biblical. We are supposed to have self-control and be kind, which includes watching the words that come out of our mouths. If only it were as simple as it sounds. Only Jesus can help us with this, as James 3:8 would say “no human being can tame the tongue.” We have to give our words to God and guard our tongue. Here are some verses I pray when I am feeling particularly irritable or out of patience.

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

Ephesians 4:29 –  Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Romans 14:19 – Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.

Praying these verses really helps me become slower to respond or say harsh words impulsively. Building others up instead of tearing them down or being critical is what we should be striving for. When you are in a moment of annoyance, instead of venting your frustrations using damaging words, keep in mind what impact your words could have. You can edify and encourage someone with your approach instead of embarrassing or hurting them.

I am nowhere near perfect at this. I am not guaranteeing you that if you pray these verses a few times a week or even daily that you will never say a harsh word impulsively again. But, I can tell you that it helps. Would you rather be known as someone who reacts to conflict or annoyance with severity, or with grace and kindness? I know which I would rather be.