When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent. (Proverbs 10:19)
Today, in the prayer of Ephrem the Syrian, we focus on fasting from the “fast-food” of empty talk, also translated as useless chatter!
O Lord and Master of my life!
Take from me the spirit of
apathy, faintheartedness, love of power, and empty talk.
But give rather the spirit of
purity, humility, patience, and love to Your servant.
Yes, O Lord and King!
Grant me to see my own errors
and not to judge my brother or sister;
For You are blessed forever, to ages of ages. Amen!
Alexander Schmemann comments on putting away EMPTY TALK:
Of all created beings, man alone has been endowed with the gift of speech. All Fathers see in it the very “seal” of the Divine Image in man because God Himself is revealed as Word (John 1:1). But being the supreme gift, it is by the same token the supreme danger. Being the very expression of man, the means of his self-fulfillment, it is for this very reason the means of his fall and self-destruction, of betrayal and sin. The word saves and the word kills; the word inspires and the word poisons. The word is the means of Truth and it is the means of demonic lie. Having an ultimate positive power, it has therefore a tremendous negative power. It truly creates positively or negatively. When deviated from its divine origin and purpose, the word becomes empty or idle.
Apathy, faintheartedness, unhealthy ambition, and empty talk are the negative “objects” of repentance. They are the obstacles to be removed. But God alone can remove them. Hence, the first part of the lenten prayer; this cry from human helplessness. Next, the prayer moves to the positive four aims of repentance.